Whittling Away the Veneers

Picking up one of yesterday’s threads:

Problem is, this veneer is multi-layered, and each glistening layer is reflecting the light of those who try to look beneath.

If a project has failed and a consultant steps in to help, he needs to work his way inside, starting at the outermost layer. Much like the outer layer of an onion is tainted with dirt, a post-mortem project situation often presents itself tainted with frustration, accusations, smelly remains of arguments or just apathy and resignation.

As a consultant, you might want to start by working with this layer. Name the emotions. Remove the dirt. Clean the trenches. Only then, proceed to whittle away the next layers until you reach the core from which the turnaround can grow.

During this process, make sure to work from their and your perspectives simultaneously. Taking their perspective helps you to follow your client into his rabbit hole. Holding on to your perspective at the same time helps you find the way out and take the client with you.

Sticking to just one of those perspectives results in a consulting strategy riddled with advice, and advice is rarely helpful. Both sides need to remove the layers until they’re seeing what helps them find a new, better way out … and onward.