You've Just Bought a Dog, so Why Keep Barking?

Last Updated Aug 17, 2009 6:17 AM EDT

There are two types of job in the world. The first are those jobs that people generally accept require an expert touch. This would include heart surgeon, aircraft pilot and, well, that's pretty much it.

And then the second classification -- by far the largest -- includes all those jobs where an element of subjectivity means everybody thinks at one time or other they could do a better job. This would include every vocation from chef to England football manager, via taxi driver and teacher.

Even qualified professionals such as accountants and lawyers find their opinions and recommendations called into question. And while a healthy cynicism can help keep such people honest, there is an overwhelming tendency among business people to hire a dog, only to keep barking themselves.
By this I mean hiring a team of over-priced branding consultants only to end up drawing a logo on a white board and telling them to go away and replicate it, because the CEO 'knows a thing or two design'. Or hiring a public relations agency and spending the first three meetings telling them what makes a good news story because the CEO 'knows the media'. Or hiring a financial analyst only to dismiss their advice as the over-cautious words of a risk averse bean counter because the CEO 'reads the FT'.

You get the picture.

The simple fact of the matter is that unless something is life or death and the key to survival is a highly, and objectively-adjudged, skilled individual then most people can't help thinking 'that doesn't look so tough... I could do that myself'.

You won't find too many company directors asking their cardiologist 'you're not going in via the coronary artery are you? I'd make a small incision in the left ventricle, so why don't you try that first?' but you'll find plenty who are as happy alternating between accountant-for-a-day, wannabe-marketer and back-seat lawyer at a whim.

By giving in to such egotistical tendencies businesses are not only wasting the money they spend on such services but they are also failing to benefit from the services those people can provide, whether they are external contractors or internal departmental staff.

The most successful managers are those who surround themselves with the right people and enable those people to get on with their job and deliver the best results. Some people however, clearly see reflected glory as too many steps removed.

(Pic: TheGiantVermin cc2.0)