Chapter 23Help Others Do Their Best Thinking

I’m a positioning consultant. When a client hires me, something predictable happens a few days before our first session. The client calls and asks for “prework.” They want me to send a questionnaire they can answer that dissects their company. Their hope: that their answers yield clues, making the initial session more productive.

I don’t, however, assign prework. The reason: It wastes time. Theirs and mine.

When I started in the consulting field, I saw colleagues giving prework, so, not wanting to disappoint, I’d send clients a questionnaire. They’d spend hours answering it. I’d spend hours reading it. I can’t ever remember learning anything or seeing any surprises. Not once. After a while, I realized ...

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