The MBA team consulting for us had a different agenda than ours

We felt lucky to have the help from an American business school. MBA students were scheduled to come see us in June. There was a lot of excitement around their arrival. They would stay for six weeks and work on key projects.

When they got here, for six weeks there was a ton of activity but none of it was really focused on the day-to-day running of the business. The CEO was always with the students, so we didn’t have much time with him during their stay. Priorities weren’t clear and critical decisions were postponed.

After three weeks, the students prepared an Interim Report and gave a presentation with a series of recommendations. From the first slide of their PowerPoint, my stomach started to knot up. Their recommendations were so sophisticated and conceptual that they were almost irrelevant to our company. Some failed to recognize the culture in which we operated and the way business was done here. Some relating to government engagement were simply naïve.

Right after the presentation I told the CEO and we needed to get control of their work and refocus it. At first he didn’t want to listen but then I other team members joined me so he had to act.

The first issue he wanted to address was how to manage the professor who was sponsoring the visit. He was the CEO’s informal mentor. He wanted the visit to support some research he was doing. We quickly realized there were conflicting agendas.