Last week, my husband and I watched the newest episode of CSI. The original leader has left the show, replaced by Laurence Fishburne (who I love) as a sort of mousey professor. Now, you would think that a professor would have real-world experience to lean on, right? This show plays it true – credentials alone don’t mean the individual has the real-world experience required to be great out of the gate.

On the very day I watched this episode, we lost a neat, medium-sized project to a much larger competitor. I happen to know that the competitor prefers to hire straight out of college and mold their consultants to their liking. The majority of their consultants have never had real-world, corporate experience working as communicators inside corporations.

I, and everyone working on my team, have had more corporate experience than consulting experience. We all know what it’s like – the politics, the budget woes, the constant change, the regular paycheck, the great benefits…

I think that corporate experience counts for something. The fact that we can be nimble, and provide customized solutions, counts for something too. And, in these tough economic times, the fact that our rates are typically half of the big firms’ counts for something too. But, it’s tough to compete with a “brand name” and an existing relationship – even if the benefits of the existing relationship don’t outweigh the lack of inside insight.

Laurence’s character is feeling his way through his new assignment. As we start in ernest on a new project this week helping a client to define their social media strategy, we hit the ground running.