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Personal Case Study: Competing with a Management Consultant & Losing

Lucio shared his experience working with McKinsey.
This sparked a memory I had with a BCG consultant.

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on June 29, 2021, 10:26 am

I've worked alongside McKinsey on a project, and they were in a similar position.
And they didn't go out of their way to fit in with the team. They just focused on the top.

Nobody liked them.
And many kept talking behind their backs.

But still, they kept getting the top ticket jobs because upper management wanted them. People could talk smack behind their back, but that backtalk carried no power.
No power, no harm.

I recall talking to an ex-BCG consultant.
He talked about coming out with a very detailed, comprehensive sales plan.
And he told me that it is the equivalent of actually executing the sales.

He indirectly implied that his strategising was above the work of doing the actual sales calls, which the sales reps do.
I think he used a combination of Master of the Universe and Smart Alec dominance.

He and I were competing to get into an incubator set up by a company.
He spent all of his time crafting a competent perception and mingling with the executives.
I spend my time on sales and product development thinking that "isn't that what's entrepreneurship about?".

Guess what? He got into the incubator, and I didn't.
I think the executives liked him enough such that they didn't really care about what his business was about.

In hindsight, it makes sense for executives to choose someone they like.
It's less politically risky because he's more likely to be aligned with the executive team.
And that may matter more than even revenue.

Also, this makes me think that a salesperson could close lots of sales but not enter the inner circle of executives.

Steve Jobs said "real artists ship".
If I didn't play politics well and end up not shipping, that's still a failure.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Love that last quote, Matthew! 🙂

Interesting case study.

Reduce the Gap Strategy

What can work strategically in cases where you can observe behavior in real-time it's to "reduce the gap".

Such as, imagine what the execs might see originally:

  1. High gregariousness with them personally & focus on roadmap
  2. Low gregariousness with them personally & focus on hands-on tasks

Then it's more difficult for them not to choose the guy who is "more like them" and who "made them feel good".

But when you "reduce the distance", then you increase your odds:

  1. High gregariousness with them personally & focus on roadmap
  2. Average/high gregariousness with them personally & focus on hands-on tasks

Now the "battle" is not so much on personal liking, but on work approach.

And if work-wise they prefer the hands-on approach, then your odds skyrocket.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thanks for the feedback! 🙂

I can see that being prototypical of the group is important to join the group, just like the best leaders are prototypical of the group.
I read this from your book recommendation The New Psychology of Leadership.
And even in business circles where objective results are supposed to matter more.

I can see how focusing on a roadmap may be seen as more executive-like even if the roadmap is pie in the sky.
But some leaders do like the hands-on approach, especially the more entrepreneurial kinds.
I think Mark Cuban mentioned that he likes hands-on people.

Basically, do the thing that you need to do for your own business.
But when you need to build rapport and convince others, it's best to observe the characteristics needed to blend into the group.
And if you want to get more status, then you need to appear as one of the better members of the group.

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