The natives are restless

Perhaps the most serious challenge for consultants is to reverse clients' growing dissatisfaction with project results. The fact that only 35 percent of clients are currently satisfied with their consultants is not exactly a ringing endorsement.3

The business analysis firm, Ross McManus, has been warning consultants that even long-term client relationships are at risk. According to Ross McManus principal, Steven Banis, "It doesn't matter what function—information technology, human resources, legal, accounting, or consulting—across the board relationships are being re-examined. In areas where there is frustration, providers are being booted out at an incredible pace."4

William Clay Ford Jr., chief executive of Ford Motor Company, said about consultants: "If I never see one again, it will be too soon."5 His comment, which can make even seasoned consultants wince, is all the more ominous because for decades his company has had no shortage of consultants working on projects.

Cynicism about consultants isn't new. No doubt, you have heard the old joke that a consultant will steal your watch to tell you what time it is. But clients' skepticism about consultants has soared to new heights as they question whether the results consultants provide are worth the fees they charge. And having a marquee brand name no longer confers the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

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