In the greatest movie of all time, the Dark Knight, Batman comes to a point where he actually has to choose to continue being Batman or not. His choice to continue is driven by the idea that, as the story goes, “he’s not the hero Gotham City wants, but the hero it needs, right now”.

It was clear that the Dark Knight’s choice was one of public service.

We label Consulting as a service. The service we offer to our clients is to generate recommendations that will help them better run their businesses from day to day. But there is a fine line between selling the work and delivering the work that every skilled consultant toes, every day. The fine line is in knowing when to stop being a salesman (the hero they want) and start being a consultant (the hero they need)”.

Salesmen, after all, deliver what the client wants, at an agreed price. The relationship is built on positive interaction for mutual satisfaction. Consultants tell you what you don’t want to hear, and then charge you more than you wanted to pay not to hear it. It’s kinda like when you go to the Doctor or get a root canal. He tells you you’re sick, gives you a prescription that makes you queasy, and then charges you $125. And the dentist . . . . no more need be said. Nobody wants to see the Doctor or especially the Dentist.

But when you need a 5-way bypass or you crack a molar, Doctors and the dentists are they’re the heroes you need. Even though you’ll have to suffer bit so they can get you healthy.
Ultimately, that’s the service that consultants offer. We deliver the tough truths and the plan to get better.

It’s a challenging practice, when you consider that some solutions have deep human interests attached. One such solution that’s gaining traction in every sector is moving from human touches to technology. Consider that entire departments of companies are composed of folks who perform tasks that can be performed by software or machinery, or a combination of the two. Software and machinery, by the way, that is more effective, more efficient and saves significant dollars over the cost of human resources.

To whom does the consultant present those solutions, how and when? Is it our place to even broach the discussion? How is it service to the client when jobs will be slashed?

I posit that not presenting those solutions is a disservice to the client. If for no other reason than that the proverbial ship has left the harbor. For every one of your clients to whom you do not present challenging solutions, another consultant is presenting them. And those tough choices are the same tough choices with which your client’s competitors are faced. Choices some of them will choose to make in order to remain market competitive.

Thus it’s important to remember that the needs of any individual must be weighed against the good of the organization. If only because the organization must survive in order to serve the needs of individuals. While it’s our duty to be caring and compassionate, Consultants work toward the good of the organization.

Sure, we’d all like to hear that business as usual still keeps business afloat, but there’s too much evidence to the contrary now. We’d love to believe that GM, Ford and Chrysler are just one more money bath from coming out sparkling. We’d love to believe that there’s a hero out there who can tell us all what we want to hear; the hero that we want.

But the hero that we need right now is truth and tough choices. Some of them not so easily digested, some of them with painful transitions. The ability and willingness to deliver those messages is what makes Consulting truly a service to our clients.
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