Monday, December 14, 2009

The Problem Is...

As I sat trying to explain the deal points of a transaction for one of my clients to a business attorney, I was amazed at how he began every sentence with: “The problem is…”  He spent my entire time with him explaining all the problems with the deal, so I invited him to share some solutions.  He offered none.   I’ll share how this story ends, but first I want to address the challenges that professionals who only focus on problems create for themselves.

Have you ever had an experience like this with a professional service provider like a CPA, attorney, insurance agent, banker, etc?  Were you as frustrated as me?  Please know that I have a lot of respect for all of the professionals I know and with whom I associate, but my philosophy on hiring a professional is more than just to define problems.

Sure I want them to use all their expertise, experience, and wisdom to help me identify existing and potential problems, but I am also looking to them to solve those problems.  The more people focus only on problems and not on solutions the less value they bring and the less we want to work with them.

My point is that only focusing on the problem leaves everyone with a bad taste in their mouth.  If a professional in any field dares to point out a problem, then they need to be ready and willing to design and implement the solution to that problem.  If not, then they will slowly lose their influence and they will have fewer and fewer opportunities to discover any problems at all, let alone solve them.

So, how did my experience at the beginning of this post end?  The attorney had done some work for the company before, but he was clearly not experienced in transactions.  After a brief discussion with the client, I approached another attorney with a lot of background in our type of deal.  After just 30 seconds with him he said he knew exactly how to draft the document and would have it done for us in a few days.  Did he think there might be some problems with structuring the deal correctly?  I’m sure he did.  But is he going to focus on solving all of them so this transaction can close by the end of next week.  You bet he is, and he’s going to get more business from us as a result!