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  • Richard Hall

“We’ve tried 3 times and failed. What makes you think you can succeed?"

Consultants don’t always get it right

Quite a few years ago, I was asked to create and implement a new software development and project management process for a Fortune 10 corporation. They had already hired very expensive consultants to do so and the initiative failed miserably each time.

I was reasonably tech-savvy but not a developer or process engineering guy. This was not about being the smartest guy in the room. This was about recognizing the culture and needs of the leaders that would have to abide by the process.

3 steps for success:

- Invited the most respected leaders that would own the finished process

- Hired a boutique firm that knew the technology

- Scheduled meetings during lunch and bought the best pizza (everyone loves pizza)

You see, really smart people do not like others coming in and telling them their way is better. You have to get smart people to feel a part of the new process, so they buy in and own it.

I had the boutique guys sit in the back of the room to act as observers and scribes. Over pizza, we selected an industry standard process to start with and walked the leaders through it. At each point that they wanted to make changes; I would glance at the boutique guys. If I got a head nod, we’re still in compliance with the integrity of the process. If a head shake, we tabled the change and discussed later how to get it in compliance.

When we finished, we had a “customized” version of an industry standard process that all of the leaders bought into. Why? Because they were part of it and not having it shoved in their faces.

It was adopted and worldwide roll-out began.

Culture before Process

If you’re trying to create significant change within the organization, it is imperative that you pay strong attention to those that will own and live with the process. Make sure they are part of the process creation and not just recipients of what a consultant tries to cram down their throat. No matter how hard you try, if they are not bought in, it won’t work.

If you have significant change going on and would like to discuss the right way of making sure it is successful, reach out to me at


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