Why I hate the term “Consultant”

Since founding Mosier Information Services, I have gone through a sort of transition. My very first business card listed my title as “President”. After a while in business, I had a new logo designed (the one we use today) and took the opportunity to update my title on my business card to “Developer / Consultant” mainly because I felt that was a little more descriptive of my job.

Today, I am again making a change to my title. I have decided to call myself a “solutions architect” instead of consultant. If you’re like everyone I have run this by so far, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “What?!”

Let me explain.

I made a conscious effort to drop consultant. As a matter of fact, I will work over the next weeks to drop the word consulting from anything that Mosier Information Services does. Not because I don’t think we’re good at helping clients – quite the opposite is true – but there is a particular stereotype that goes along with consultants.

That stereotype – the one that during my days as an IT Director I agreed with wholeheartedly – is one that I want to shake. I forget where I heard it, but the old saying goes something like, “A consultant is someone who will borrow your watch then charge you to tell you what time it is.”

Another illustration is from an old story talks about a plumber that was called in to fix a leak. He took a careful look at the pipe, gripped his hammer with both hands and struck the pipe as hard as he could. The leak stopped. He then presented a bill to the customer for $250.35. The client was furious. “This is outrageous; you were only here for two minutes and all you did was hit the pipe!” The plumber took back the bill and itemized it for the customer. When the man got it back it read, “Striking the pipe with hammer – 35 cents. Knowing where to hit – $250.00”

Henry Ford once said “The moment one goes into the expert state of mind, a great number of things become impossible.” I strive to keep Mosier Information Services grounded and am going to do my best to prevent us from ever developing a know-it-all mentality. Yes, we are specialists and have an enormous wealth of specialized knowledge in the technical arena, but the only expert on our customer’s business is our customers.

When we engage with clients, we want to go in and work collaboratively. We want to understand why they do what they do and how on earth they do it. We want to make sure that any solution we propose meets with their expectations, their company culture and the resources they have to make it work. Yes, by some definition, this would still fall under the guise of “consulting” – but to me – and my team – it’s much more than that. We truly enjoy building our clients businesses. Sometimes when we leave a client meeting, the solution that we all agree on have little to do with technology and more to do with organization or marketing, but it always comes from the client’s expertise coupled with our specialized knowledge.

So in a nutshell, that’s why I have boycotted the title of “Consultant.” Maybe “Solutions Architect” isn’t the best one either, but it’s all I have for now and I am going to run with it until something better comes along. If there is one thing I am not afraid of is change.

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About the Author

Though his chief ambition is to one day control the entire Internet, Jim busies himself in the meantime running our little web development and marketing agency. He's a certified super nerd who ranks coding in old, outdated languages and watching Star Trek reruns just a bit too high on his list of fun things to do. Outside of work, Jim enjoys Hockey (Tampa Bay Lighning, to be specific), more genres of music than most people realize exist, riding his Harley (he calls it "two wheel therapy") and exploring the world through travel.