Chapter 8


Magic Formula: Rapid Results with Low Labor Intensity

The Role of the Buyer and Champion

We’ll talk in Section IV about methodologies and intervention techniques. I want to focus here on the nature of the intervention once the proposal has been accepted.

Just as we should prepare the environment and culture for the acceptance of a proposal, we should do the same for acceptance of our intervention. Probably the most critical factor in the eventual success of our implementation is the role of the buyer.

With rare exceptions, the buyer should be the champion of the project. The buyer may delegate accountabilities to lower-level subordinates, and you will take on many as the consultant, but the buyer must be the point person who is leading the charge. In the American Civil War, when massed brigades marched in eighteenth-century style across fields into the fire from nineteenth-century weapons, there was every reason to believe that the soldiers would find shelter or hit the ground for safety. But they didn’t.

The brigadier general leading a brigade would get on his horse, draw his sword, and yell, “Follow me!” And they did.

He didn’t say, “I’ll meet you there,” or “Let me know when you get there.” He was in the front, the main target for enemy sharpshooters.1

When firefighters arrive at a conflagration today, the most senior officer present, even a chief, leads the firefighters into the flames (unlike police, by the way, where senior officers set up a command ...

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