Give a fish...teach to fish

There is much truth to the saying,

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

Over the course of the past few years, I've advised clients on how to set the right foundation for their companies and showed them how to create a strong base and structure to scale more easily. I've found that the most beneficial approach has been to provide them with the framework and be by their side as they start to fill in the gaps. Granted, it's easier to provide them with everything all ready, nicely wrapped and printed, however, there's no sense of ownership and no learning from that approach for the client.

Case in point: during a meeting with a potential client a few weeks ago, they told me that they had commissioned a consultant to help them set up training and operating manuals but, felt they didn't get any value out of it. Nothing happened. I had asked them why, to only find out that once the manuals were received, they were 'put in a drawer' and not implemented. So why get a consultant in the first place? Who was the responsible person internally to implement this? They even went on to blame the consultant! Money out the door...well, in the drawer. If you want manuals, I can send you links to download them, print them and put them in your drawer. No need to spend a fortune on that.

On the other hand, building a framework and having a Project Manager on the client side who is wholly responsible, is the most productive and sustainable approach. Sitting with the PM and walking them through and guiding them on how to put the 'meat' on the framework will make them more independent and self sufficient in the long run. It should be the ultimate goal to teach them how to create and build these tools themselves. A train the trainer approach.

So, when looking to make some changes & improvements in your company, make sure that you (1) have an external advisor who will guide you through the implementation, not just drop off a bunch of manuals; (2) have a responsible person internally (with the full mandate and support) who will make sure milestones and deadlines are met; (3) get everyone sharing the vision of the benefit of such project and (4) have executive management fully on board, and convinced with the project.