Dear Manager,

As individuals, we would never consider defending ourselves in a court of law; the outcome’s too risky. We would never consider performing surgery on ourselves; simply too much blood. We would never consider risking our personal net worth with an amateur; those winter nights can be cold on the streets!


I am constantly amazed by the willingness of management to risk their hard-earned profits in areas where they hold little or no expertise. While it may seem very exciting, creative and (with some rationalization) motivated by increased profitability, management can too quickly come to the conclusion that “we can make those.”

Management then proceeds to make “those,” often without a basic knowledge or understanding of why or what “those” are. Substantial amounts of capital are often “invested” in a project or product that, with more inside knowledge, could have been more wisely invested, or not invested at all!

Consider this scenario: Management asks their staff to figure out how to make “those.” The staff proceeds, finds a resource and gains what surface knowledge they can. The new resource is very excited to assist (perhaps motivated by its own profits), offering encouragement and support for the project to the staff members.

Management is very enthusiastic, and it is the objective of the staff to please management. In most cases the staff carries minimal personal risk, as the final decision to proceed is always that of management. Given this scenario, does management have all the valuable information it needs to make an informed decision? The entrepreneurial spirit has taken hold with limited awareness of the down side – it’s the unknown that will kill you.

In many cases, thousands of dollars have been flushed away for lack of timely, product-specific information. All of a sudden, there seems to be more to making “those” than was initially anticipated. This is certainly a trap for small companies, and has put many out of business. It is also a fundamental flaw for large companies who rely too heavily on their past success.

Just because you have succeeded in one area, there is no reason to believe you can automatically succeed in an area outside of your given expertise. In fact, your previous success alone will rarely serve your needs in any new endeavor. Instead, your confidence may provide you with false security and ultimately betray you.


I believe that in most cases, unnecessary risks are taken as a result of management’s failure to calculate the collective strengths and weaknesses of the organization. When I think of a management team, I think of it in relationship to ones involvement in a college or university. College students spend four or more years developing a major. This major becomes a personal strength, and is what they are individually noted and recruited for upon graduation. Along the way, these same students have developed a minor, enhancing their strengths and overall value, both personally and in the marketplace.

Individuals within a management team should be looked upon from a similar perspective. Each member has major and minor strengths which define their capacity to contribute to the organization. These may have been developed through a college curriculum or over a period of years in their careers. It goes without saying that for each individual on our management team there are classes that simply have not been attended!

This is no reflection on them individually. Just as we each have major and minor strengths, there are many areas in which we have no knowledge. All too often, individuals cross their own line of expertise at the very great expense of their organizations. Pride and ego play a role for all of us, yet it is self awareness and good judgment that will save the day. It is our responsibility as managers to not only have a true understanding of our own capacity, but to maintain a full accounting of the individual strengths and capacity of our staff.


These are the words that management should translate to their staff. Without an expert, how can we possibly proceed? There will certainly be instances where a staff member is capable of providing you with very good advice, and in most all cases it will be human nature for them to provide you with their best advice regardless of its true value. Make them prove to you that they can consult with you like an expert!


Without question, the most under-utilized management resource is a consultant. I have personally invested and lost in areas in which I had no business assuming I could succeed. If I had simply proceeded with a bit more caution, been more patient in the process, and demanded of myself that I find a qualified individual to assist in the early stages, thousands of dollars could have been saved. Once again, would we risk our own personal financial future with an individual who has little or no expertise? In retrospect, the greatest lesson learned was to insist upon the use of only expert advice.

The first dollar invested in any new endeavor, let alone in solving an ongoing problem, should be in gaining timely information and options of how best to proceed. A minimum of 5% to 10% of any new product development budget should be set aside for consulting services. It would be very interesting to see how often this single investment would save the balance of the 90% to 95%!


With the need for protecting personalities, multiple priorities and increasing our profits, we are often too close to the center to maintain our objectivity. If for no other purpose, this is the first reason to hire a qualified consultant. A consultant’s sole objective (and professional future), is based on their ability to provide you with their major on a focused task. Their objective is to perform for one individual: you.

Because we cannot financially afford a staff of qualified experts in the many areas that impact our business, I believe all organizations should make use of consultants in some form. Be it in marketing, product development, customer services, key account development, employee management or computer technology, the list of consulting resources goes on and on.

First, define those areas of your business that, from experience, carry what I call the nagging anxieties. Are you absolutely confident in all aspects of your business? We all have areas that we know are not performing well. Now define the primary role or objective an expert in the field could provide.

Now is the time to pull out all of your resources to find the right individual to assist you. This can be accomplished first by looking within your own industry, researching companies who seem to excel in your areas of concern. Does your staff have an area of strength that could assist in their needs? Could an exchange of these resources be accomplished without a compromise to your organization? Next, look into the option of asking a retired executive from your industry or a similar industry to assist in a specific objective. The resources are there.

Initially, a little pride may need to be swallowed by staff members, and a few egos will need to be left at the door. If there is an unwillingness to freely assist and participate in management’s objective to provide the very best product or service possible to their customers, they have firmly planted themselves in a position as part of the problem.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2008. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM