Communications Shift LO20684

Scott Ott (
Tue, 16 Feb 1999 19:51:02 -0600

In reply to Communications Shift -- LO20648


Great send-up of the consulting business. In a brief stint as a marketer
for a training/consulting company I found your scenario to be all too
true. In interviews with CEOs, I would sometimes ask "What if the result
of our organizational effectiveness survey shows that the big problem is

The people who buy such services seemed to have the attitude that they
were going to get "those people" fixed -- meaning their employees. The
staff was not blind to this and came determined to prevent any fixing. And
yet the whole pecking-order game was in full swing, so everyone tried to
give the appearance of seeking change, paradigm shifts, re-alignment or
whatever other buzzwords we encouraged them to get juiced about.

One propective client was bragging to me about the great consultant
relationship they had with a well-known national leadership training firm.
After he made several remarks about the quality of this program I
interrupted and said: "Listen, if you are getting such great results with
XYZ Inc. why are you talking to me?" He said, "We thought maybe you might
cost less." I said: "If you like them, you won't like us. So, why don't
you just pay their high prices if it's working so well." He said: "Well,
actually, it's not working all that well."

The problem they had was common. They were trying to buy change in other
people. Other people don't want to be changed, and are incredibly capable
of resisting our efforts to do it to them. They smell manipulation like a
dog smells fear. They sense trouble and dig their heels in from the
opening ice-breaker. They hunker down during the tricky illustrations and
deceptive games. They survive unscathed all the way to the bonding-moment
close. They give the presenter eights and tens on the evaluation and go
back to the way things used to be.

Every once in a while though, a seed gets planted which later sprouts as
the person's own idea, and then it has a chance to grow and create real
change. If the consultant does the job right, no one will ever remember
that the idea came from "outside."

Grace & Peace,
Scott Ott
(816) 630-4110

-- (Scott Ott)

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