Tuesday, July 19, 2005

a modest proposal

i'm a big fan of a little thing called ownership. not just for myself, but for folks in general. and by folks, i mean everybody. as much ownership as possible.

the main reason for this is a simple idea:


ownership begets both pride and responsibility, which together beget value


and that is because ownership involves more than monetary investment. truly owning something involves mental and emotional investment as well. otherwise, you just don't care enough about whatever that something is, and therefore you don't value it.


nowhere is this more evident than in my chosen profession. as a technology consultant, i see firsthand how the lack of a sense of ownership in data systems can affect a small business. time and time again, i see new clients and prospects who feel nearly helpless, to the point that they think they have no control over systems that they have bought and paid for.


9 times out of 10, i can trace it back to consultants or vendors who, consciously or not, make small biz owners feel like a spectator when it comes to their systems. insanely crazy stuff like...consultants refusing to give up administrative passwords upon request, or who half-implement systems, then take the money and run.


the sheer disrespect in that kind of behavior stuns me, and i...for one...am fed up with having to combat the bad reputation crappy tech folks give the rest of us.


as a gift to small biz owners everywhere, your friendly neighborhood happyfunboy offers a few simple truths that, if you keep them in mind, might help you take back the power:

  • nobody knows your business (and its needs) better than you do
  • your consultant should be able to explain, in plain language, what she is doing and why at any given moment
  • if your consultant can't explain, in plain language, what he is doing and why, he probably doesn't actually know what he is doing
  • your consultant works for your convenience, not her own
  • if your consultant gabs about another client's tech issues to you, he is gabbing about you to someone else...bank on it
  • a workaround is a band-aid, not an answer
and finally, my personal favorite:
  • if it sounds like b.s., it probably is
that's not to say that we consultants don't need to have our act together. but it doesn't take some grandiose mission statement or declaration. personally, i think any consultant who follows 2 simple operating principles will never lack for good clients who trust and value their work:
  • i will tell my clients the truth about their systems to the best of my knowledge, even if it is not something they would particularly like to hear
  • i will teach anyone anything about a client's systems at that client's request
clients who are comfortable with their systems, and feel that they are in control of what is happening to those systems, even if it is someone else who actually does the work (diligent consultants like us), are not only much more satisfied clients, but they are also much more likely to think strategically about their systems.

and why is that, you may ask?


because their true ownership of their systems means they value those systems.


and, by extension, the trusted advisor (again, diligent consultants like us) who got them there.


note: today's treatise inspired by
ms. stanton's recent blog posting

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