If you have been a consultant for any length of time, working in the field with clients, you will almost certainly have come across the consultant’s dilemma.
If you are a consultant and your client wants to do something that you either know from personal experience or from conferences / papers on the topic, know just wont work, what do you do?
I guess you have three generic options;
- Yes – the client is always right (even when they are wrong) so if that is what they want to do, it’s ok with you
- No – dear client I know that it wont work and while there might be a remote possibility that it might just work here, why take the risk and waste time and effort, don’t do it
- Yes, but – dear client that’s a great idea but have you considered these other options that have been proven to be successful in other organisations
As a consultant it can be very difficult to say ‘no’ to a client (everyone has a boss to answer to after all) and you would probably default to ‘yes but’ and do your very best to engage the client in considering alternatives but at the end of the discussion they may still wish to follow the original path.
This can be particularly challenging conversation if you are an internal consultant.
I have always taken the approach that my role is to provide 'best advice' to the client, if the client chooses not to accept that advice then that is their decision and they are perfectly entitled to do that. It does mean however that in some instances you have to be prepared to part company with the client.