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Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

One of the first things you learn early on as a consultant is that it is impossible to have a precise answer to every question. There simply is not enough time in your busy schedule, and rarely is there good enough data, to get at the precision and accuracy that is needed for a “perfect answer”.

Consequently, you have to choose where you focus your time on getting precision and where you spend only the time needed to get a “good enough” answer, and the best consultants are very good at determining that balance.

imageI had never heard this balance described so eloquently as when a partner said (about prioritizing different components of some analysis we were doing): “It’s like horseshoes and hand grenades.”

I had no idea what he meant, and he must have sensed that.

“You know, with one [the horseshoe], you have to really get on target. And with the other, you don’t really need to be super-close to still have an impact [the grenade, obviously].”

A lovely image to explain a very basic concept in consulting. Spend your time getting the horseshoes right on target, and just chuck the freakin’ grenade kind of close and you’ll make plenty of impact and still make it home in time for dinner.

(Image credit)

Published in Blog

4 Comments

  1. bankers>consultants bankers>consultants

    you have no idea what you're talking about that (shocking that you decided to pursue consulting). in horseshoes, you still get points for being close to the target. hence the expression, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. well done.

  2. Ben Ben

    Not sure why it was necessary for the insult, but thank you for clearing that up. With that said, the analogy was very precisely as I described and I didn't mention the part where the partner noted that he was twisting the original analogy (which as you so “kindly” pointed out, I had never heard of).

  3. bankers>consultants bankers>consultants

    you have no idea what you're talking about that (shocking that you decided to pursue consulting). in horseshoes, you still get points for being close to the target. hence the expression, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. well done.

  4. Ben Ben

    Not sure why it was necessary for the insult, but thank you for clearing that up. With that said, the analogy was very precisely as I described and I didn't mention the part where the partner noted that he was twisting the original analogy (which as you so “kindly” pointed out, I had never heard of).

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