Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Consultant

So we've brought in a consultant at work in an attempt to sort out some issues we've been having and improve some other things.

By nature I'm cynical of consultants. Just the word makes me think of expense without return and people who swan around blowing hot air and theory but don't produce. I hope this chap will be different though. We've put considerable time and effort into our research and I hope we've learned from previous errors.

Perspectives and differing realities are, to me, a fascinating subject, one I've been thinking about as our consultant does his thing.

I've been observing people's reaction to him, how they behave and the impression they want to create.

Naturally they've all managed to go up a gear just because he's in the building. They're more friendly yet more serious, more hardworking and more smiley and friendly than they were a couple of days ago.

It's a recognised psychological phenomenon and I've read about it before. It's called the Hawthorne effect.

What I was thinking about specifically was that it must be the reality for these consultant types. In the same way traffic cops, if the only time they were on the road was when they were on duty, would think that most motorists abide by the rules just about all the time and always travel at about 1 mph under the speed limit.

I wonder how many of the consultants go into a company and think "what's the problem, they all seem motivated, eager and more hardworking than a Colombo 7 Domestic around the New Year."

Obviously there's a real life answer to this question. Good consultants know about psychology and good traffic cops, even bad ones actually, go out on the road when they're not on duty and know how people usually drive.

But it's bloody interesting watching people shift up a gear for no reason other than the fact they're being watched a bit.

Must rush, I can't let the fellow see me writing a blog post!


Marc said...

Being a consultant in the past I have see the 'hot air' in action. I remember BCG sending in two graduates who created a powerpoint presentation for which the client was billed $20,000. Which industry do you operate in ?

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Marc - I guess there's good and bad in all! I work in international mail, but this guy is specifically to help our sales team perform better.

Shiroshan Randika said...

Interesting Topic! Thanks to Hawthorne effect.