Business decision makers should consider annual “house calls” from outside business advisors – the equivalent of business “doctors”
By Phil Slaght, Director, Cleveland
Business performance outlook is increasingly volatile across industries, markets and regions. Business decision makers are under pressure to operate their business day-to-day, evaluate internal efficiency and effectiveness, and identify and analyze external risks and opportunities. Dedicating resources to evaluate fundamental signs a business is experiencing financial duress is not often prioritized for a variety of reasons: lack of specialized experience in-house, lack of bandwidth, and plain old arrogance. Failing to evaluate symptoms of distress to determine root cause will lead organizations into painful situations.
I hate going to the doctor. Most people do. We fear what we are going to hear: you have problems that need to be addressed. Once we come to terms that we are not the picture of health, we then rely on the professionally trained specialist to explain the issues and provide solutions.
Business decision makers face the same quandary of when to call in the specialist. They have their role because they exhibit competency, leadership, problem-solving, drive and good decision making. It is human nature for those in these roles to take it upon themselves to develop all the solutions. They know their organizations better than anyone…sounds just like “I know my body. I know how I feel.”
I am not a career-long consultant. I have spent most of my career internally in finance functions. In-house, there is pressure to diagnose issues throughout the company, across all different aspects of the organization. Too many times personnel are tasked with diagnosing deep-rooted issues outside their scope of expertise. In many cases, it results in a misalignment of knowledge and experience. While learning on the job can be an effective path to growth, it can cripple an organization with an expectation that “we have people looking at it,” when those people are asking “what am I looking at?”
Business decision makers need to appreciate when it is in the best interests of the organization to visit the doctor. Or, even better, have the “doctor” make a house call.
Business consultants practicing in the areas of operational and strategic improvement; resource, process and systems optimization; benchmarking and KPI analysis; and turnaround and restructuring solutions are keenly aware of symptoms, their underlying root causes, and how to effectively address them. They also bring the insight and experience gained from other organizations, offering a wider perspective.
BOOM! You knew there was a catch in here somewhere. So why would successful, effective business decision makers in tune with the performance of their company need a consultant?
Sounds just like “I don’t need to go to the doctor. I look and feel great.” Excellent. But as a baseline test, decision makers need to consider if any of the following “warning signs” apply to their organization’s health:
These warning signs exist at many organizations. The key is how effectively do decision makers address these warning signs. If it is business as usual, there is a very good chance that management is going to find themselves in the business equivalent of emergency room triage: something has dramatically gone wrong. What needs to be fixed, how do we prioritize and who is going to fix it??
This is the point where decision makers ask themselves “how could we have prevented this?”
A strong business consultant will assist a business with identifying symptoms, the root cause(s), and the solutions before needing a trip to the ER. As a trusted business partner, a consultant will provide decision makers expertise on approach:
Routinely visiting the doctor provides peace of mind and solutions to issues. While the process may be painful, having a clearly stated and understood path forward allows for higher chance at success. Similarly, engaging a strong consultant provides a similar level of awareness to your organization’s health, and the solutions required to ensure ongoing success.
If you find some of those warning signs above apply to your organization, please contact me or any of my colleagues at Aurora Management Partners.
If you have an existing consulting relationship, reach out to them. Time is of the essence.