5 surprising things to consider when you hire an external consultant

When hiring a consultant to work with your organization on issues such as accelerating a major change, post merger integration, labour relations or creation of increasing scalability, beware of these 5 things.

1) Beware of optimistic, cheery consultants exuding “wow-wow we can do it”.

There are times when optimism is useful, yet a good organizational diagnosis and a solid implementation plan must factor in a lot of not-so-optimistic assumptions about human nature.

Wearing “a smile you can see a mile” sells well, but implementing complex change is not a tea party or walk in the park. Change consulting and OD entails proper risk management, not the empty headedness of positive motivational tweets.

2) Beware of change models and fads, of which there are so many.

Model and fads distort the view of what needs to be fixed. Models and fads are designed for the scalability of the consulting business. Yet, each organization is one of a kind, sui generis because of the people.

An organizational consultant must be smart and eclectic,not a operational model implementer.

3) Beware of a consultant who emphasizes how much he/she knows.

What is most important is how well can the consultant learn.

A lot of stuff consultants know is already out dated.

4) Beware of consultants whom you send to negotiate with procurement and they readily agree.

This may indicate a junior positioning, although there are some organizations where this is a mandatory step.

Good consultants are often too expensive to be ok’ed by procurement who are equipped with pricing models from the world of training or IT and are not willing to pay big bucks for top people.

5) Beware of consultants with whom you feel uncomfortable.

The appointment of a consultant is a matter of trust.

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6 thoughts on “5 surprising things to consider when you hire an external consultant

  1. Hi Alan

    Barbara Ehrenreich is my heroine (alongside Gloria, of course) for pointing out the folly of unwaranted positive-mental attitude. Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5um8QWWRvo and here http://www.theschooloflife.com/library/videos/barbara-ehrenreich-on-optimism/

    I wrote to her in the early days and pointed out all the management manifestations… which she said she hadn’t been thinking about.

    Also love her “Welcome to Cancerland” http://barbaraehrenreich.com/website/cancerland.htm (an affliction I truly hope Gloria never suffers).

    All the best


  2. Both consultants and organizational leaders who readily address challenging change initiatives with a “let’s re-frame everything positively” attitude have yet to learn how to cope with uncertainty. In addition, ready-made recipes, especially in the case of transformational change initiatives, are like paint-by-number canvasses; they attend to the logos and fail miserably in mythos: to two ingredients required to cope with uncertainty.

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