13 May 2009  |  by Chris Barnes

Before you hire an outside firm, be clear about your expectations

Just like you, I seek and hire experts for my business, for client projects, and in my personal life. This is the first in a series of posts on how to work effectively with experts, and I intend them as much as a reminder for me, as an offering to you.

Do you want a firm that will execute your ideas?

If you just need some implementation work done, that’s fine. But be aware that if you hire a firm to do what you tell them to do, you are, by definition, not interested in learning from their perspective. There are many vendors who are happy to have your business and won’t give a second thought to ask, “Why do you need that?” Just understand that they will see your problem as…well, your problem.

Or, do you want a firm that will help solve your problem?

Think of yourself as a patient. Do you go to a doctor to tell her you want surgery? You’re more likely to live a long and healthy life if you go to a doctor when you recognize that you have a health problem that is outside your capability to solve. You describe your symptoms, engage with the physician in their diagnostic process, and trust that their experience, education, and judgment will enable them to prescribe an appropriate course of treatment.

No, you can’t have it both ways.

Perhaps you’re tempted, as I have been, to say, “Well, I mostly need help making my idea happen, but I do want to know if it’s stupid or could be¬†improved. So I do want advice, but I don’t feel like I can pay for advice and for the work, so…Can we split the difference?”

If your expert says “sure,”¬†be forewarned: They’re willing participants in compromising the process they’ve developed to deliver positive results. You may not know which expertise they have to withhold to hit your budget, and they may not guess correctly about the expertise you need most.

My best guidance is a bit of advice that applies to any relationship: Go into it with your eyes open, and be honest with yourself and the other party. If you are clear about what you’re looking for, you are more likely get what you want.

Bookmark and Share

Leave a Comment