#503  from Innovative Leader Volume 9, Number 11          November 2000

FORUMófrom our readers

A Warning

Over the past six months, Iíve been responsible for hiring experts to help my company set up a more creative environment.  Each month, one of these experts spends a day with us.  Itís been an embarrassing experience.  I frequently have egg on my face after one of these people show up--theyíre terrible!  Not all of them, but most were.

I learned about these consultants through agencies as well as from web sites.  They come with glowing recommendations and sometimes send ten minutesí worth of video to show off their skills.  But watch out for their promotional tricks! 

One personís brochure and web site mentioned that he was an adjunct professor of management in a top-notch university.  The university had no such adjunct professor!  Another person gave me the phone numbers of two people who ďwould be pleasedĒ to recommend him.  They provided rave reviews.  During his visit, I became suspicious and did a bit of sleuthing.  One of the recommendations came from the consultantís cousin, another was a good friend of the consultant!

A third consultant provided several glorious quotes with the names of the individuals and the name of their companies.  Turns out that no such people worked in these companies.

One of the best ruses was someone who advertises his consulting with the following quote from a well-known CEO of a huge, successful organization:  ď(Consultantís name) played a major role in helping us develop (a very successful product).Ē  When I called the person who was in charge of developing the product, he told me he never heard of the consultant.  And I bet the CEO has never heard of him either.

I guess one learns through mistakes.  Iíve now spending more time on the phone with the consultant and am asking more pointed questions.  For example, where and when were your last two engagements and can you give me the phone numbers of your key contacts there?  I also ask if they will guarantee that their service will be valuable to us.  In other words, if we donít find value, they donít get paid.  Thatís a good way to eliminate the frauds.

At least Iím learning.


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