‘Never let engineers talk to the client’

“I have managed projects of 800 people.  I never let the engineers talk to the client.  That is what project managers are for–to talk to the client. I am here to take over this project and make it happen.”

The above is not a figment of my imagination.   It is a real statement by a fellow I met today.

I am at loss for words to describe my response.  One young engineer confided to me: “I will not work for him.”

Another specialist asked: “How can you get good ideas raised and evaluated?”

“Internally.” was the answer.

The sheer arrogance of this fellow astounds me.  His incredible confidence in self frightens me.

His boss said: “Get the engineers involved only when it comes to analyzing the embankment stability.”

My reply: “What is the point of a conceptual design done without the engineers?  What is the point of analyzing a concept that is wrong and unengineerable? Why compare impossible-to-build alternatives?”

My sympathy is with the clients beguiled by such over-confidence and misplaced arrogance.  It all sounds good in meetings, but there is no substance to the advice or subsequent decisions.  Yet the client pays for all this consultants’ bullshit.

Maybe peer review is the answer.  At least that is my advice to clients: demand an independent peer review report before you believe or act on the advice of any consultant.  It cost lots of money, for peer reviewers are expensive.  Yet it is worth every cent.

No matter how much confidence you have as a client in your chosen consultant, make sure another, independent consultant as peer reviewer looks over the chosen consultants work before you decide, act, or commit funds.

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