One of the characteristics of a good consultancy – in any area – is when they forfeit potential fees by telling a client they shouldn’t actually do something they are considering.
The experience of the BoM with its rebranding exercise – now an issues management disaster – is a prime example.
Having spent $220,000 on rebranding to come up with the dumb result that it wanted journalists and the public to refer to BoM as the Bureau and then to release the news in the midst of a flood disaster could be the PR disaster of the year (even counting some of Scott Morrison’s campaign efforts).
BoM paid a consultancy called Era-Co $118,177 for brand strategy and design and $69,300 to The C Word for communication and implementation planning. The former doesn’t seem to have an Australian website but one can imagine the sort of guff they use to describe themselves. As far as the second is concerned most people would raise their eyebrows a bit at any company that proudly called themselves after the c word which can have sexist and obscene connotations.
It also seems an awful lot of money for a very minor outcome and an output which created a crisis for BoM accompanied by a combination of anger, dismay, ridicule, bemusement and amazement.
It reminded the blog of something which arose while it was doing a lot of work for a large Australian company at one of its biggest industrial plants. The company MD and his staff were happy with the work and one day the MD asked the blog if he could also look at a problem at the plant and see whether anything could be done about it. The assumption was that there must have been some communication problem.
On a visit to the plant the blog asked the plant manager to take him down to the area where the problem was. In conversation with the staff there one of the machine operators said to the manager they’d heard that there was a problem and he thought he might know what was causing it.
A previous manager of the area had said the process should be changed to a ‘better’ one. The machine operator gave a quick description of the change made, said the problems seemed to have started from there and described how it used to be done.
The plant manager immediately reversed the original decision and the problem disappeared.
The blog didn’t think any more of it and got quickly busy in the next six months because there was a rush of new clients asking for help. While new clients are nearly always welcome in consultancy the sheer variety and number was surprising.
Finally, the blog asked one of them if they minded telling him where they had heard of the consultancy. The reply – the MD of the large company had told him he had been working with a consultancy who, when asked to look at a problem, told him he didn’t need to spend any money on it.
The lesson for consultancies – don’t sweat the fees and just provide the advice the client needs rather than what it wants.
Of course, it’s often not just the consultancy which is the problem in these cases but the client as well.
Having worked with many public sector organisations the blog has had the good luck to work with a variety of committed, competent and very bright people.
On the other hand it has also worked with some – particularly those who brand themselves change agents – who have an amazing capacity to cause massive disruption before moving on to another employer where they do yet more damage. It should also be said this phenomenon is not restricted to the public sector and the private sector probably has as many value and culture destroyers.
These sorts of managers – as well as championing change – have an amazing capacity to generate lots of fees for consultancies.
…….. and if you have been thinking about the BoM case and have fessed up to what crude, offensive and sexist thoughts crossed your mind when thinking about the c word you should probably also consider that in this case it could well stand for clusterf.ck