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Stop with the Kitchen Sink

Posted on August 23, 2012 and read 2,885 times

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michaelw Stop with the Kitchen SinkMichael Weiss
Managing Director

“Consultants are people who have influence but no direct power to change organizations.” – Peter Block, Flawless Consulting

What a brilliant definition; it sums up who and what consultants are. We are brought in as outsiders to identify problems and offer solutions, but not to implement – that’s left for the client to handle. But all too often consultants, be they agencies or seasoned individuals, add more fuel to the fire and make things more complicated.

Case in point:

This morning I received a 27 MB PowerPoint document from a third party offering their advice and insight on one of my client’s marketing efforts; specifically content marketing.  This third party is a HUGE company; software developer, digital strategy, mobile, etc. I so wish I could say who it is, but you know I cannot do that.

I skimmed it at first. 43 slides; lots of graphs; colors and text. It sure is pretty. And although it is clearly a template that they use over and over, there was a lot of time put into it. I applauded their effort. There is one slide with a flow chart, that while makes no sense to me, clearly took someone a lot of time to think about and create. Again, a lot time and effort was put into this document.  So upon first glance it feels “worth the cost.”

Then I read it, and read it again. I spent a good hour with this document. I searched deeply for any kind of meaning, for a kernel of inspiration. All I wanted was something new, something different; something that would at least make me sit back and rub my chin. But all I got was a bunch of pretty pictures and jargon. In a nutshell, I got nothing… nada… zilch. In fact, not only was there no new thinking, what they offered was so convoluted and complicated, it would only make matters worse if implemented.

I had one of those cinematic moments when I turned to the “camera,” shrugged my shoulders and said, “Really?”

So dear reader, I ask you:

Why do some consultants (not all) feel they have to justify their existence with bloated ideas supported by jargon, graphs and flowcharts? Why do they feel they have to over-complicate things with convoluted ideas, and unrealistic objectives and goals? Why do they feel the need to include the kitchen sink?

Sometimes the smallest idea turns into the biggest win.

Yes, I am a marketing consultant and I am paid for my expertise and my ideas. If what I deliver works, then I have done my job – it doesn’t matter if it takes 4 hours or 40. And by “works,” I mean by inspiring change, educating clients with new ways of thinking, offering a new way to think about implementation. And while my ideas and solutions may come easy to me, that doesn’t mean they do not add value. The reality is that they come from more than 20 years of working in the marketing and digital trenches. I have a unique perspective that my clients may not have. Bottom line, I am paid to help companies succeed. Not to confuse. Not show off. Not to overwhelm. Not to over-promise and under-deliver. I am paid to set up strategies that can be implemented.

I am hired to influence; that’s it.

It’s okay to offer a simple solution. In fact, that is what most clients want. Something they can actually do. They want ideas that can be implemented tomorrow. They want goals that can be reached. They want solutions to their problems. Not problems for their problems.

  • Anonymous

    Well said Mike.  B School is full of these overblown PP presentations and may even be the reason we see so many bad ones.  We used to call presentation day “Death by PowerPoint”.  

    There is sort of a “white-coat” effect for consultants that allows us to command authority that actually gets things done.  The outsider who is not part of the culture or bureaucracy of the client has no scores to settle or favors to oblige.  Milligram proved you can get people to do almost anything with the right setting and conditions.    

  • michael weiss

    Good point J. If we teach how to be overblown at business school, then it makes sense that the trend continues in the real world.

  • Eric Brody

    Good post Michael. 

    Very thoughtful, yet simple. And provided value to me. So your theory is correct.

    No reason why succinct and swallowable can’t provide value. In fact, the more we deliver a POV that our clients can fully comprehend, the more likely they’ll be able to (and others will be able to) action – whether from a marketing standpoint or across the organization. 

    Makes me think of a great book called “The Perfect Pitch” from Jon Steel. He states that the  simplest ideas are always the most meaningful, e.g. I love you. She died. I will. 

    Really no different in this case.





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