Are you getting married? Married to an ABM consultant, coach, trainer or software vendor. If so, don’t tie the knot based solely on their sales pitch or advertisement.
Barry Cameron, my pastor, recommends five pre-marital common sense tests before the marriage contract is consummated:
- Drive with your fiancee in heavy traffic.How do they react? Cool and calm or frantic and frustrated? Their demeanor is an accurate reflection of how they will react under pressure throughout your marriage.
- Meet your fiancee’s friends.A cross-section of their friends will provide you a good sample of your fiancee’s likes, dislikes, habits, and character. Remember, with your fiancee comes their friends and family.
- Go shopping with your fiancee. Are they a big spender with no sense of value? Or are they conservative, with a good understanding of “want” versus “need”.
- Play tennis with your fiancee.How do they call the balls close to the line? Can you trust them? Are they patient with a beginner or do they throw the racket in frustration? Are they a good teacher, or simply out to win at any cost?
- Listen to your fiancee talk to their mother.Are they loving and respectful? Do they talk and listen? Or are they short, curt, and not interested in someone else’s feelings. The conversation is a good indicator of the type of communication you’ll have with your fiancee. Lack of communication is a primary root cause of divorce.
As you embark on the process of ABM implementation, you’ll want a “partner” who is going to be there for you. Someone to talk with when “how to” questions arise or if unexpected problems occur. Variations of Barry Cameron’s five recommendations will help you partner-up with the best Activity Based Management consultant, coach, workshop leader, or software vendor to meet your needs.
Before you leap into an ABM consulting “engagement” try these five ideas:
- Reach out and touch someone.Call several ABM firms. How quickly do they respond with theinformation you requested? If it takes very long, or never comes at all, it may be symptomatic that they don’t practice what they preach. If it takes 2-3 weeks to receive their information, how long will it take them to respond when you need a quick solution to a problem or question. Also, are they friendly and knowledgeable on the phone? If not, your partnership is destined to end in a messy divorce.
- When you call your prospective ABM vendor, do they “talk” about their product and themselves instead of “listening” to your needs?Who talked more, them or you? It should be balanced. If your prospective ABM software vendor, consultant, or coach did not ask your business needs, you better watch out. They may be selling a hammer in search of a nail to hit. And you’re it.
- Who does your prospective ABM coach or trainer hang out with?Ask them for a list of customers. Are you impressed? If so, call some of them or ask for letters of recommendation. If they are apprehensive in providing you a list, you better be concerned. Also, look for variety in the list. While an ABM specialist in your industry might be of some benefit, a firm with a wide variety of industry experience will provide you more value. The best practices of activities and processes are typically outside your industry. Select an ABM coach or trainer that has a wide variety of industry knowledge to enhance your prospects of benchmarking after your pilot project.
- Ride with them in traffic.Hire your prospective consultant or coach to come in for one day to educate your toughest, most skeptical audience on the needs, principles and benefits of ABM. Observe how effective they are in handling skeptics from your engineering department or tough questions regarding non-value added from operations. Every consultant can deliver a “canned” slide presentation. Find out how they handle tough, unexpected questions. You want a level-headed, experienced, seasoned ABM partner on your implementation team.
- Go shopping before selecting your ABM products and services. While prices for ABM software, daily consulting rates, and workshops do not vary a great deal from vendor to vendor, some terrific “deals” can be consummated if you simply ask for a “package” price. A package of onsite training, periodic coaching, software and workbooks. Ask for a proposal that meets your needs. You’ll be glad you did.
All marriages are happy. It’s the living together afterward that causes all the trouble. Don’t get caught up in the excitement of launching ABM only to later regret the partner you chose for the journey. If you simply use some common sense at the beginning, you’ll be celebrating the benefits of ABM for years to come.