Okay, before you twist your propeller into a pretzel over the title of this article and the mere suggestion of mediocre consulting work, let’s break the idea down.
(After that, I encourage you to twist and comment.)
Part 1 – What is Consulting Work?
The core of a consulting firm’s work is a spinning, two-part cycle: Win Engagements, and Create Value.
Part 2 – What is Mediocre?
You can grade your consulting firm’s work based on its impact on your firm’s reputation among clients and prospects. In other words, the recipients are the judge of quality. This applies to your work winning engagements (the six steps outlined here) and to your work creating value during engagements.
A few points on the continuum are:
|Quality of Work||Impact on Reputation|
Part 3 – How is Quality Judged?
Quality benchmarks for Winning Engagements are different from those for Creating Value.
Surprisingly, it’s easier to create remarkable value for a client than it is to produce truly remarkable, visibility-building work.
On the other hand, while you can get away with uninspired marketing, an uninspired deliverable can torpedo your reputation with current clients (and future prospects).
Part 4 – Is Mediocre Okay? Yes, if…
It’s one effort among many in your work Winning Clients. In other words, Mediocre is okay for marketing; or…
It’s one step on your way to a Good or Remarkable final product for your clients. An iterative, C2B2A process can be highly effective.
Part 5 – Five Great Reasons to Do Mediocre Work
- It’s Easy, and Jolts You into Motion!
This may be the most important reason to endorse mediocre work. Many consultants struggle to start tasks that are difficult, distasteful or daunting. The fear of failure freezes them.
But what if you give yourself permission to do a downright mediocre (or even bad) job—at least at the outset? You’ll find your barriers to getting started drop dramatically.
- High Quality is More Apparent by Comparison
In a vacuum, your work can be tough to evaluate. However, you (or those around you) can certainly see what isn’t good. Producing mediocre work casts your errors, imperfections and omissions into stark relief. That’s how you learn what good and remarkable look like.
- You Can Improve on It
Mediocre is a step along the way to remarkable. Very little is spontaneously outstanding. The value you create and the marketing you produce will continue to improve with each iteration.
- It’s Practice
As long as you’re constantly improving, practice rewards you with confidence and efficiency. Your big deliverable or big speech might take six days to craft the first time; however, after twenty repetitions—even mediocre repetitions—your prep time to shine on stage or in front of your client could drop to six hours or 60 minutes.
- A Mediocre Final Product is OK (for Marketing, Not for Clients)
To a large extent, quantity and frequency trump quality when it comes to building your consulting firm’s visibility. (See this article.) Not every marketing piece you produce will be remarkable and, in fact, it’s often difficult to predict which article, speech, book, tweet, webinar, etc. will be a hit.
So, keep pounding out the content, accepting the mediocre on your way to the occasional burst of superlative.
Now, are you still alarmed at the idea of mediocre consulting work? When has (or hasn’t) mediocre work been effective for you?
Text and images are © 2021 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.