Friday, December 4, 2015

why hire a consultant?

As we finished the two day retreat with our consultant this week, the question of why would anyone hire a consultant plagued my mind...could we have done this ourselves?  why are we spending money on this?  are we a better institution now than we were before they arrived?  Upon further reflection, I realized that our consultants had been worth their price in gold - and that by using them and taking advantage of what they brought to the process, we were not only better today but we would be much better in the future.  So...why hire a consultant?  Here are several reasons that come to mind:

  • Believe it or not, there are people smarter than us.  As someone recently reminded me, "If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room."
  • Very few executive teams have all the skills that they need to get the job done.  Finding someone to come alongside and help fill in the skills gap makes sense.
  • COULD we have done the work ourselves? Perhaps.  WOULD  we have done the work ourselves? Maybe. And would we have done the work ourselves in such a TIMELY MANNER?  Probably not.  Consultants can bring focus and urgency to a process.
  • Consultants have worked with similar institutions and can provide feedback based on what those institutions do - or don't do.  Having such a comparison helps move the process forward.
  • It is easy to be distracted from what's important to what is urgent.  An outside consultant and partner can help keep the focus on the important rather than only the urgent...if you let them.
  • Having a trusted partner outside of the institution can give perspective to the leader and the team.  Seeing them as a partner rather than a vendor goes a long way in ensuring completion of the project.
Hiring a consultant is only part of the work...listening to the consultant is another part of the work...using the consultant in an on-going relationship is yet another part of the work.  And finally, the organization has to DO THE WORK itself, or the work of the consultant is in vain.  Why hire a consultant?  To help the organization do its work in moving the mission forward.

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