I'm a management and technical consultant with nearly 30 years experience in the field. I've been trained in Operations Research, Process Improvement and Project Management-- I come in to figure out why a company isn't performing well and how to make it work better.
I tell clients there are three fundamental components to any business:
- The people who perform the tasks (and their existing workload),
- The processes they use to structure their efforts (which includes culture),
- The technology they use to help perform the tasks (which includes copiers and phones).
The first two are by far the most important... but my business card usually says "Technology consultant" because everyone assumes they need more and better computers.
Sometimes they do. Other times they're not using what they have well. Frequently they have so many that nobody knows what they all do or why-- and they're afraid to change what they have, because they don't know what they might break if they retired something.
I run into a related problem on web development projects. I try to explain to clients that what retains people is the content-- that keeping the site fresh and new will be their biggest difficulty and largest expense. But they're always focused more on the graphics and the applications... which, once you exceed a certain minimum level, are superfluous to your sucesss. (unless you're a design studo or an ecommerce site).
As the son of a historian, I find that most bad decisions occur because (a) People aren't aware the underlying issue has happened many times before or (b) they mistakenly assume that their solution is unique
As a rule, no one has written anything about the Internet that was not written when the telegraph or telephone was introduced. Everything you need to know about Wall Street can be learned from studying the sale of tulip bulbs in the 17th century. I get paid to point these sorts of things out to clients.