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Productivity Consultants On The Problem With Sounding Smart

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Business process consulting may seem like highly intellectual work filled with buzzwords and complicated ideas. In truth, good business process consulting is about clear thinking and avoids the trap of “smart talk.”

In business process consulting, everything that is old is new again. We’re still struggling to leverage the Hawthorne Effect from over fifty years ago, which notes that to increase employee productivity, you must show people genuine attention. It’s no surprise then, that an older blog post contains business process consulting wisdom that’s still applicable—even though it’s talking about an article from 1999. Patrick Meier wrote:

The authors note that using complex language and concepts can also make one sound smart. Indeed, “rare is the manager who stands before his or her peers to present a new strategy with a single slide and an idea that can be summarized in a sentence or two. Instead, managers congratulate themselves and one another when they come up with ideas that are so elaborate and convoluted they require two hours of multipart, multicolored slides and a liberal sprinkling of the latest buzzwords.” Now, the authors are “not claiming that complex language and concepts never add value to an organization.” They are simply suggesting that such language “brings a lot less value than most executives realize.”

If you’re looking for business process consulting and hear someone talking about “paradigm shifts”, “intrapreneuring” or “KPI benchmarking”, you have a right to scratch your head.

consulting on confusing terms

© Flickr user a r b o

Meier’s blog post is drawing a connection between that old Harvard Business Review article and a modern interest in workplace productivity with social media. For each of the five characteristics of organizations that avoid the “smart talk trap,” he outlines how the same advice might apply to tools like Twitter and Facebook.

Here at AccelaWork, we’ve long covered the relationship between worker productivity and leadership. So when it comes to choosing a business process consulting partner who isn’t all buzzwords, here’s our advice about the HBR author’s five factors:

  1. “Leaders who do the work, rather than just talk about it, help prevent the knowing-doing gap from opening in the first place.” Look at the efficiency and satisfaction of the business process consultants themselves. Do they just talk the talk, or do they also walk to walk?
  2. They have a bias for plain language and simple concepts.” Read their websites. Check their case studies. Do they cite cottage industries like “Lean or Six Sigma“, or do they emphasize common sense and human dignity at work?
  3. “They frame the questions by asking ‘how,’ not just ‘why.'” Confirm that your business process consultants actually want to learn about how your business works in the smallest detail.
  4. “They have strong mechanisms for closing the loop.” Does their consulting process build in follow-up time to ensure change actually happens?
  5. “They believe that experience is the best teacher ever.” Effective business process consulting is built on the message that Failure is the secret to success.

Want to learn more? Reach out to AccelaWork’s consulting firm based in Indianapolis. We promise to speak in everyday language and help you implement real, practical solutions. Call us today!

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