The Unknown Consultant

Johnson Rodding

Dear Reader, I love engineers. Without engineers, the bridges we drive on would fall down, the internet would not exist, etc. It has come to my attention however, that special instructions for this post are needed for those of a more technical orientation. Your indulgence is appreciated.

  1. Johnson Rod has zero sexual connotations
  2. Click on footnote 4, 5 or 6 and it will take you to a hyperlink at bottom of the page
  3. At bottom of the page, click on hyperlink to Nota Bene page and it will open in a new tab
  4. Scroll down and read the definition of Johnson Rod
  5. While you are there, scroll a bit further and read the definition of "Tomato Against the Wall"
  6. Bonus Points: In footnote 3 of this article, follow the link to the REM video. Watch it. Contemplate artistic license. Ponder the section headers in this article.
  7. Rue wistfully a liberal arts education :-) :-)

What's the Frequency, Kenneth?1 2 3

Want to have some fun? Participate in a status meeting of a portfolio of engagements at a brains by the hour firm led by a senior manager and attended by engagement managers or engagement leads.

Set your watch. How long does it take the meeting to devolve into a detail discussion of one engagement's Johnson Rod (read footnote link to see definition)?4 Not long, eh?

In fact, what percentage of the meeting is spent on Johnson Rodding?4 What are the odds the meeting does not ever finish on time because of Johnson Rodding4?

The above is a good example of how many brains by the hour professionals do not understand the difference between a business process5 and a technical process associated with service or product delivery. Nor do they understand how to execute a business role versus a service or product delivery subject matter expert role.

I Never Understood the Frequency

Wait, hang on a minute you say ... How can you possibly review engagement status without Johnson Rodding? Are you crazy? Yes, but that's not germane to this discussion.

As Any Major Business Dude™, with half a heart, will tell you, a senior manager should facilitate an engagement status meeting as follows.

Meeting Prep

Tell all of the engagement managers to show up with a report with one line item per engagement that has a column for:

Bonus Points: Have engagement managers provide said report a day before the meeting.

Meeting Scope

Discuss only engagements at risk aka the engagements with a material $ or schedule variance at completion.

Sidebar Engagements in the at risk status should be few in number. If not, that is a post for a later day as you have systemic issues.

Sidebar No Tomato Against the Wall6 is ever allowed. It's grounds for removal from the engagement manager role. If this happens a lot, you have systemic issues and is a post for a later day.

Meeting Execution

For these engagements at risk, here is the summary conversation.

Scope Change No Material Impact on Client Sat

Can you get a scope change without material impact on client sat? If the answer is yes

Scope Change Will/Can Materially Impact Client Sat

Is It On Us?

If a scope change presents a material risk of adversely impacting client sat, then ask is it on us? Tell the engagement managers yes/no answers no details at this time please.

Examples of whey it might be on us are listed below but do not get into details at this point!

Is It On the Client?

Well, if it's not "on us", then it's "on the client". There is no other category. And again, when you ask the question, no detailed answers from the engagement managers. Just yes/no please.

Examples of on the client

There Is No Other Category

There are those that will argue that there is a third category of "unknown unknowns", complexities out of "your control", that were discovered during the engagement. Unfortunately that falls into the on us category. Such is life.

Follow Up Meetings For the Few Engagements

For those few engagements where you are needed to help manage client sat during the scope change process, or set internal expectations up the food chain, or both, set a follow up meeting to get the Johnson Rod details if, and only if, it is needed for these purposes.

Again, this should be the exception and not the rule. If this is not true, you have systemic issues and we can discuss that later.

Irony Was the Shackles of Youth

I know, I have heard it many times. I "don't understand your engagement managers" and/or the staff on the engagements, and/or inter-departmental dynamics!

Do you want to do their jobs for them? On second thought, don't answer that question.

Are you familiar with the notions of management by exceptions, delegation and mentoring as methods and processes that run concurrently with your delivery management status business processes? Are you owners in the same firm? Don't answer those questions.

These will all be subjects for posts on a later day.

I Couldn't Understand

But "I will be Johnson Rodded by my bosses!" and "if I am not up to speed on the minutia of the engagement's Johnson Rod, I can't engage in defensive maneuvering with my bosses".

OK, now we have a relationship. I am glad we are having a heart to heart. The Johnson Rodding is a systemic cultural issue in most brains by the hours firm. It greatly impacts scalability and margins for professional service firms. We are going to have fun discussing what, maybe, can be done about this.

Until then

  1. #synonymsdefinitions

  2. #caveatsandadmissions

  3. #remwhatsthefrequencykenneth

  4. #johnsonrod (scroll down on linked paged to see definition)

  5. #business-process

  6. #tomatoagainstthewall (scroll down on linked page to see definition)

#broken-process #business-process #needless-technical-conversation