Consultants always try to do what is right for their clients and, at a minimum, don't mess anything up. Shouldn't the Hippocratic Oath apply to management consultants as it does to physicians?
The modern Hippocratic Oath
states, in part: "I will not be ashamed to say 'I know not,' nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery." As applied to management consulting, this means that there will often be things you do not know and you should not be hesitant to admit it. You can always propose to follow up with research, analysis, or referral to another specialist. The last and possibly most unethical thing you should do is to pretend you know something you do not. This is outright lying.
What will mitigate the impact that you are human and will not know everything is having a good network of specialists. You know where you are strongest in skills and experience, so you should have a good idea of those areas in which you lack knowledge or technique. Make a list of these and deliberately begin to identify where you can find expertise for each. Contact each one, introduce yourself, confirm their expertise, and tell them you would like to be able to call on them as needs arise. Your network (and theirs) has just gotten bigger and you are now more valuable to your clients. Tip:
The original Hippocratic Oath states: "I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art." As originally (4th Century BCE) interpreted, this means that a physician will not "cut for stone" (i.e., remove kidney or bladder stones) when this task is better suited to a specialist. A historical note: during this time, physicians were not considered surgeons, which was considered a less prestigious profession than medicine. © 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA