Jun 23, 2009

Not-quite-lean consulting: A typical start

[The following is based on real events that have occurred repeatedly over the last 10 months, though some liberties have been taken for half-hearted humourous effect...]

Day 1, 9:05 AM: I've just joined the team, I'm smiling and shaking hands and desperately trying to come up with a mnemonic device to remember everyone's names. Which is when Important BM Guy tells me it would be very useful to The Team if I interviewed some people to get their thoughts on This General Sort of Thingie.

"This General Sort of Thingie...?", I inquire, hoping to get some clarification.

None is forthcoming, other than the fact that the first of the interviews starts in 5 minutes. No time for a second latte, then.

Day 1, Interviews 1-3:

Res: "Hi, I'm Res. I'm working with Important BM Guy and we'd really like to get your input on This General Sort of Thingie."

Interviewee Dude: "Well, that's a pretty vast topic, anything in particular you want to discuss?"

Res: "Well, ummm, we're just really keen to hear your thoughts on what you believe is critical when it comes to This General Sort of Thingie" (i.e., this is my first day, I have no idea what I'm talking about, please don't give me a hard time...)

Interviewee Dude: "Ah, OK. In that case [insert random brain dump here]."

Day 1, rather later than I would like: After 3 interviews, those large, highly productive neurons I was hired for have managed to identify key themes and points of interest in the quagmire of random brain dumps. So, eager beaver me types up a beautiful list of insightful questions and emails it to Important BM Guy, cc: Rest of Team, to see if we're all on the same page before the next round of interviews.

No one emails back.

Fast forward to beginning of Week 2: By now, I've conducted many interviews (and have mostly managed to stifle some very loud yawns), drafted detailed interview notes, and gone through several artistic iterations of powerpoint slides summarizing all this stuff.

Which is when Important BM Guy steps back in to the picture.

Important BM Guy: "What's this shit?" (tact not being one of Important BM Guy's key strengths)

Res: "Ummm, it's the results of those interviews you asked me to do". [sotto voce: "Dumass."]

Guy: "But it doesn't talk about Three Super Specific Never Previously Mentioned Points."

Res: "Err, no..."

Guy: Audible sigh

Res: "So.... you want me to call all these guys back and do the interviews again?"

Guy: Smirk, accompanied by one raised eyebrow.
Clearly he assumes my question is rhetorical. By now, I should know better.

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