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Customers Typology: The Self -deprecating Customer

image source: Wikipedia


The Self -deprecating Customer is exactly the opposite type of The Customer who Knows Everything. He automatically accepts the Consultant advice, without any questions or hesitations.

Probably, you will not believe that the first example of a Self -deprecating Customer I think of, is the CIA. It is about a project named Triangle. Triangle was an Information Technology project of Legacy Modernization and systems expansion after September 11 attacks

After  completing the Development phase, the CIA begun the Implementation phase. However, someone who was a Senior Manager, thought that it will be a good idea to rethink if the project fulfills its goals. A committee of 100 leading academic and IT industry experts, investigated the project.

The main recommendation in  the committee's detailed report was: stop implementation and fix the errors in the systems. Afterwards the systems could be implemented again.

It should be noted, that stopping implementation at such advanced stage of the Development Cycle, is very expansive. However, after reading the report in the Web, I understand why the experts recommended to stop and rethink.

The CIA made almost every mistake I could think of. As far as this post is concerned, the self -deprecating mistake was decisions taken by consultancy vendors instead of CIA Managers.

Is not he the ideal customer a Consultant could think of?
It looks like ideal circumstances for consultancy: The consultant's long term employment is ensured, his vision and recommendations are accepted, as well as the deployment methods he recommended.
However, the scenario could be not as good as the consultant could imagine. The following are main drawbacks:

1. The customer takes no Responsibility
In case of failure, regardless if it is due to the consultant's mistakes or unrelated factors, the consultant will be responsible for it.
The customer would argue that he done exactly what the consultant recommended.   

 2. Following blindly is not limited to following the consultant
 The customer may easily follow someone else's advices without any doubt. It could be a vendor or another consultant. The result could be lack of consistency and no systematic approach. 
For example, another consultant contradicting recommendations in related topics, could be executed along with the consultant's recommendations.

3. The Customer is not learning
In the long run this could be the most severe problem. For example, one of the goals of SOA consultancy is to create a Reuse Culture.
Most of SOA initiatives without Reuse Culture fail.  The Self-deprecating Customer could easily preserve the old non-Reuse Culture. 

Usually I prefer to give to my customers fishing rods and not fish.
The Self-deprecating Customer usually prefers fish.   

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More Stories By Avi Rosenthal

Ari has over 30 years of experience in IT across a wide variety of technology platforms, including application development, technology selection, application and infrastructure strategies, system design, middleware and transaction management technologies and security.

Positions held include CTO for one of the largest software houses in Israel as well as the CTO position for one of the largest ministries of the Israeli government.