The Consultant’s Lament

A few years back, I had a series of brief conversations with a business consultant. He made his living entering various offices and plants, and at the invitation of management, observed their systems and analyzed their methods. He was paid well to find problems and map solutions.

It seemed like an interesting line of work, and he had been successful, but I couldn’t resist asking him a question one morning about the long term effects of his reports and recommendations. “How many CEO’s and managers actually implement your proposals and change?”

He chuckled. He said that many read his reports and then filed them away, never acting on them. Apparently they would go through the motions of testing the workers and listening to the consultant’s recommendations on how to make things better, but then, even after shelling out serious dollars, ignored the advice.

I’d lived long enough not to be surprised. After all, change is difficult. We are creatures of habit, and enjoy doing things as we choose, even if it’s not that efficient. It may not be the best, but, as the song says, “I did it my way.” Some might call it pride.

Solomon put it like this (Proverbs 14:12), in the extreme:
“There is a way that seems right to a man,
but in the end it leads to death.”
Apparently the principle was so important that he repeats those words in 16:25!

Often I hear someone say, “I wish someone had given me that advice when I was young!” And I’m always tempted to reply, “Someone probably did.”

Good advice is not hard to find, just hard to take.

“The way of a fool seems right to him,
but a wise man listens to advice.”
Proverbs 12:15

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