Why Consultancies Lack Ownership
Working with a consultancy will get you access to talent and experience - but how you use it really depends on the quality of output you get.
I have seen many startups engage consultancies - esp. when they are not sure if they want to build a team in house. One of the biggest issues I usually see with that - consultancies are not designed to own any of the decision they make. For them (in most cases) it's just a project which lasts a few months or may be a year or so. This often leads to optimisations for delivery than for the product itself. Thus you can often see poor architectural decisions, spaghetti code, lack of testing and planning in general in most of these cases.
From those working in consultancy - one feels they are learning a lot by working on different "projects" but in reality the real learning doesn't happen when you are writing that code - it happens 2 years later when you are trying to change it and its breaking all over the place. You don’t really get to experience the product itself.
From the video, Steve Jobs says:
"I dont think there is anything inherently evil with consulting - I think that without owning something over an extended period of time, like a few years where one has a chance to take responsibility for ones recommendations - where one has to see ones recommendations through all action stages and accumulate scar tissue for the mistakes and dust them selves off - one learns a fraction of what one can."
So should startups not use consultancies at all? I think they can - but the real value to a startup is only generated when you have someone in house who knows how to use that talent. If you expect to “outsource” everything - then you have no idea what you are getting in return, and usually one finds out about this towards the end of the project.
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