Consulting Best Practices

Quick Tip: Don’t Name Names

It takes a lot of interviews to get at the root of a business’s challenges. When it comes to reporting on this information, should you name names? Should you say, “The consensus is that George is a disease upon this department”? In a post for the Institute of Management Consultants USA, Mark Haas says the answer is no—do not do that. Do not name names in general, as many interviews are conducted under the assumption of confidentiality. And besides, you are being paid to measure the effectiveness of structures and processes, not individual people. So if you need to insinuate a given resource is a problem, do so tactfully and from a business-centric perspective. Additionally, use the general title of the person in question, not the person’s actual name. An example statement Haas uses is “Shipping profitability is greater when the VP of production is held accountable for closeouts.” See the difference there? It still basically conveys what needs to be said, but in a professional and non-hostile manner.

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