Value Generated Is More Important Than Hours Worked

When we established 33 Sticks, one of the first, and most important, decisions we made was that we would charge our clients for the value we deliver rather than the hours we work.
I’m paraphrasing Alan Weiss, consultant/speaker/author, here as he says it best, any time you are charging by the time unit, you are in an ethical conflict with the client. The client is best served by quick resolutions. But the consultant is best served by taking the most time. It’s impractical and an unwise business approach. It’s unethical to the client and unfair to the consultant.
I got my first exposure to the world of consulting in 1999, when I was teamed up with a group of consultants from Andersen Consulting. From there it has been an colorful adventure of hiring and managing consultants early in my career to running a consulting team later in my career.
In all my interactions with the consulting industry, there was one common tread that stitched my experiences together and that thread was a general focus on hours billed to the client rather than value generated for the client. In fact, there was an inverse relationship between hours and value, the more consultants focused on hours the lower the quality of work they delivered.
As the years went on, I found myself becoming more and more dissatisfied with life as a consultant. I found the majority of my time being spent on managing operational overhead, made necessary by the need to continually account for every 15 minute increment each consultant worked, rather than doing the work that I love, the work that generates tremendous value for my clients.
It was at that point that I made the decisions to stop trying to fight a broken system, I wasn’t going to change “the way it’s always been done,” and start creating a new system. One built not on time but on quality and value.
This decision has lead to one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in the first few months of running 33 Sticks, as we now have the ability to work hand-in-hand with our clients to create extraordinary value, unencumbered by a ticking time clock. Refreshing!
I’m not pretending that this approach will work for every consultancy, I’m sure there are compelling reasons to do it another way, but it works for us and our clients and we will continue to put our focus on generating value.