Monday, July 21, 2003

Why follow the money?

When we sit inside an organization, it is very difficult to diagnose our problems accurately. In my experience, most companies contact a consultant with a fairly specific service request (e.g., team-building, market analysis, strategy development, technology audit, etc.)--one that is based on a faulty diagnosis. For the consultant to take this at face value is usually a mistake. Few among us, no matter how smart or skilled, are able to be objective about our own lives. Why should we expect a CEO, director, division head, etc. to be any different? In other words and more succinctly: "A fool is his own lawyer."

The question then becomes, what is the problem and what lies at its source? Following the money is a superb diagnostic tool, because money is in some ways the most tangible manifestation of relationships--within the organization and with the outside world. It is not the only tool, of course, but it has an incredibly useful way of clarifying the reality that underlies the verbiage. It's like a road map, but one with special powers. Once you have used it to track a problem to its source you find, lo and behold, that you have in your hands an essential lever for positive change....which is a fine thing indeed.

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