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Why Good Supply Chain Business Executives Make Bad Business Consultants And Vice Versa

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Why Good Supply Chain Business Executives Make Bad Business Consultants And Vice Versa

If you have been a senior executive in the corporate circles for just a few years, you already know the truth about this great fight endemic in consulting circles.

Professional Consultants Are Trained In Logic in Supply Chain Business Executives

In one corner you have professional strategy consultants – people who join large consulting firms straight out of university. They are generally the highest scorers in some of the best universities on the earth and meet a psychographic profile of insecure overachievers.” 

No amount of work is too much for them. Having little other corporate experience outside of their consulting jobs they take the senior partners' dictum as papal gospel and build the strong bulwark of most of the professional consulting firms.

They are trained rigorously in the crafts of consulting, and consultative selling.

Drilled into the art of report writing, horizontal and vertical logics, industry research, company research, tearing apart the annual reports ten different ways and put them back together in twenty ways.

I still remember my consulting training and mentorship for the first two years was almost as difficult as my cadetship in the merchant marine - though the environment was not as hostile.

That is why I remain grateful to my mentors and go out of my way to help them whenever they ask for it.

Professional consultants also learn how to build relationships and convert client problems into consulting projects.

They learn how to spin a small consulting loss leader project into a mega profitable giant program which pays their firm almost as much as it benefits the client corporation.

In this environment, the consulting report is the end product, even through the promise to the client might be a business transformation.

The expectation is that the process of preparing and presenting the final presentation would trigger or catalyse business transformation.

Subsequent implementation projects frequently run off track because the implementation firms do not buy into the strategy.

Seasoned Executives Working As Consultants Rely Mainly On Intuition Supply Chain Business Executives

In the other corner you have seasoned executives with decades of experience in corporate world.

At some point in their careers they find the corporate politics too much, or decide to take a sabbatical in the consulting world and jump in to give the benefit of their experience and wisdom to the rest of their colleagues in their industry, or wider business world.

They know how to get the biggest bang for their buck - how to get the maximum results from minimum inputs.

They know all the points of high leverage - places where effort yields the maximum results. They have seen it all before. They shoot from the hip, and either hit the target spot on and fall flat on their face.

Either way, they fail to build a large professional firm because they lack the sales training, and focus too much on delivery.

Moreover, their wins only come when the situation in the client company is more or less similar to something they have encountered before.

They lack the systematic problem solving ethos that professional strategy consultants drill into their consultants from day one.

Their reports come across a amateurish, and frequently horizontal and vertical logic is missing.

Without that inbuild logic, their recommendations are mainly based in the intuition, and that is the reason why 50% of their business transformation projects are spectacular successes and the other 50% of their projects are spectacular failures.

Skills Sets Are Widely Different in Supply Chain Business Executives

Professional consultants lack industry knowledge and hands-on experience - that is why they can take an abstract view and think logically. On top of it they have extraordinary amount of extremely rigorous training in using logic to prepare their reports.

They are slow to come up with the solutions, and will never uncover the best, or the complete solution to any problem - simply because they lack the knowledge of the black swan in the situation (the one thing that will change everything).

Seasoned executives generally lack the rigorous consulting training mentioned above - that is why they are likely to jump to conclusions based on scanty information.

Depending on how good their intuition is, and how similar the situation is to something they have encountered in their past work experience, their win to loss ration is generally just past 50/50.

They will either spot the black swan immediately, or mistake something else for one. In either case they will be very sure of their recommendations - because in corporates circles speed and confidence are overvalued.

Why Is This Information Useful?

Though primarily I write to clarify my thoughts on a topic, it has to be of some use for you to pay attention to it. Otherwise, what is the point of reading it, even if it based on 35 years of work experience.

IF you are employing a strategy consultant as an executive, use this information to equip them when a complementary team adept at implementation.

Expect slow, methodical and deliberate thinking leading to surer results. Provide industry knowledge and training at regular intervals, while valuing their core strategic thinking skills.

Finally, whether you employ them as consultants, or executives, try and find individuals who combine the best of these two worlds. That combination may be rare, but it is extremely valuable.

When I embarked on writing this blogs, I thought I would get into several anecdotes and personalities that I have dealt with over the past 25 years of my consulting careers.

I also thought that I would get into my consulting and supply chain skills frameworks delineating the skills for business transformation teams and business as usual teams.

Those things will have to wait for other blogs - because this one already sounds like it is complete and ready for reading.

Do write your thoughts in the comments below so I can take them into consideration in my next blogs on the topic.

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Copyright - These concepts, frameworks and ideas are copyright of GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN GROUP from the time of their creation. Do NOT copy these without permission and proper attribution.

Notes:

1. These ideas and concepts will be usually expressed by our thought leaders in multiple forums - conferences, speeches, books, reports, workshops, webinars, videos and training. You may have heard us say the same thing before.

2. The date shown above the article refers to the day when this article was updated. This blog post or article may have been written anytime prior to that date.

3. All anecdotes are based on true stories to highlight the key points of the article - some details are changed to protect identification of the parties involved.

4. You are encouraged to comment below - your real identity and email will not be revealed when your comment is displayed. Insightful comments will be featured, and will win a copy of one of our books. Please keep the comments relevant, decorous and respectful of everyone. All comments represent opinions of the commentators.

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ABOUT THE PRINCIPAL AUTHOR

Today, Vivek and his partners are among 20-30 people on the planet earth who have this deep understanding of supply chain systems, practices and tools. CEOs, COOs, executives and Boards call them in most challenging situations once they know the full potential of supply chain based transformations. Following are key milestones in Vivek's journey:

  • Started in 1983 as a merchant navy cadet at 18 years age, worked his way to qualify as a Captain – qualified to take command of any merchant ship, worldwide.
  • Earned a top tier MBA from UNSW at the top of his class.
  • Joined highly regarded strategy consulting firm Booz Allen & Hamilton, consulting to the CEOs, Boards and senior management of global corporations within Australia.
  • To learn and specialise in supply chain – against all odds, sought out the co-inventor of supply chain in Germany and convinced him to be a partner in his firm, GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN GROUP, launched in January 2000.
  • More than 500 successful blue chip projects with high impact business transformations in large corporations using the full power of SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT.
  • 4 Seminal and path breaking business books IN SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT – these are available in bookstores and universities and libraries worldwide.

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If you are deeply passionate about the world of business and supply chain networks as I am, and enjoy digging answers to critical questions that will help build and steer your business with wisdom, then join me. This book is a journey of exploration through the world of business networks that run along the veins of today’s commercial world.

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OUTPERFORM OUTSOURCE OUTPROFIT

The trend of outsourcing continues to grow unabated with the whole gamut of services, from simple to mission-critical tasks. There is not a single company on earth that does not outsource anything. It is not just about cost arbitrage, it is also a finer expression of division of labour at the organisational level. Like all leverage, outsourcing is a double-edged sword too. On one hand, it allows you to do more, faster. On the other hand, if it goes bad, it can easily kill your business. If you do not believe that is possible – you can google the Fox Meyer saga from the 90s and see for yourself.

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UNCHAIN YOUR CORPORATION

Businesses Are Chained By Unseen Chains. If You Are Looking For Ways To “Unchain Your Corporation” A Successful Business Transformation Is Required.

Successful Business Transformations Are Difficult, Yet Rewarding.

Business Transformation Is Fast Becoming A Question Of Survival In The Modern Globalised Era.

Modern Supply Chains Integrate Businesses And Economies Faster By Systematic Information Sharing From Internal And External Sources.

Companies Can Multiply Profits By Progressively Ramping Up Cohesion And Collaboration Of All Moving Parts In B2B Network To Achieve Tighter Integration.

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GREEN SUPPLY CHAIN – AN ACTION MANIFESTO

It is generally accepted that environmental consciousness is now changing to environmental proactiveness as organizations are discovering that it makes good commercial sense.

Boards are asking the management to review their policies related to environmental norms, not only to bolster their corporate social responsibility aims, but also because consumers are asking for greener supply chains

It is also widely agreed that consumers will increasingly prefer to buy more and even pay more for products or services provided in an environmentally sound manner.

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