I once had an interesting experience in a meeting with Bill and a top tier consulting firm, in a very impressive office. We called in to see a mid-level manager and explained what we were doing in the consulting arena around ebusiness – strategy, web enabled application development, portals – enhancing the online user experience. This guy’s response was, “we don’t need you. We have a partnership with Cisco.”
“What? The people that supply routers and switches?”
Interesting enough our very next meeting was with a Partner of one of their competitors, again a top tier firm. The response was entirely different – he was pragmatic, client centric and with an emphasis on solving problems and really interested in how we could help. He wasn’t interested in pushing his own ego and importance – he just had a job to get done well.
At the end of this second meeting Bill exclaimed, “The world is a wanker! People hide behind egos and the protective veil of large corporations, but put them out into their own business and they wouldn’t last 5 minutes. They are just not that bright, regardless of what they tell you. And the more letters after their name, the less they can do.”
“All you have to do is stay 20 minutes in front of the client. You have to have the courage to have a go, and punch above your weight.”
To test this theory, I tried a presentation to a major IT organisation about our capability. I was reciting a presentation fairly much rote, with almost no understanding of the technical terms I was using – but following instructions of speak confidently, roll your hands, lean forward….
And the response shocked me –
“you guys are way in front of the market, I think you will shake up this town…”.
I nearly died laughing…
Since then of course I made sure I did know what I was talking about….
The Technical Hiring Dilemma
In the UK, the Technical Director was a young super bright guy named Nikk who had more technical and business smarts than many people I’ve met with 10 years more experience. He was the one with the critical pressure to ensure projects were delivered and worked. And he also had to manage the resourcing pains of that as well. His common complaint was, “everyone says they can do it right up until the point they cant do it”.
I experienced this on a project. We had briefed a local WA business partner to undertake what looked relatively simple application development. We noticed that he seemed to be taking an inordinate amount of time to do the work, reassuring us that all was on track and that he 90% there. After two weeks of this, he disappeered, taking the payment for the work done to date BUT without us having any code we could use. Of course, he could do it – right up to the point that he couldn’t do it.