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#376: Don't Get Trapped by Allegiance to Only One School of Thought

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, August 23, 2010
Why do some clients (and some consultants, for that matter) insist on only one brand of assessments, approaches, processes, etc. when there are a range of proven and innovative options?

Be careful here. Whether we develop them ourselves or adopt (or adapt) concepts developed by others, consultants can settle into allegiances from which we are hard to dislodge. Despite evidence to the contrary, we stay in our conceptual lanes and dismiss any concept that we think doesn't align with what we already know and use. For example, even though there are a dozen nuanced approaches to strategy, we only use the planning, environmental, transformation, cultural or other concept.

However easy it is for us, this is ultimately a disservice to our clients. Our obligation is to provide the best advice to each client, not just what's easiest for us to deliver. Also, consider why there are so many variations on a theme in assessments, approaches, etc. for consultants. It's because, as consultants, we frequently repackage and rename an old concept, write articles and a book, heavily promote it as "revolutionary" and dismiss other good ideas that aren't consistent. I am a firm believer that there is rarely anything new under the sun and, as we repeatedly discover, each "revolutionary" management concept has its adherents before being cast off in favor of the next variation.

Tip: This has gotten to be such a problem, especially in its power to squelch debate about improving a discipline, that it has led to the Oath of Non-Allegiance, which states: I promise not to exclude from consideration any idea based on its source, but to consider ideas across schools and heritages in order to find the ones that best suit the current situation (more from my website). The movement is intended to end statements like, "This idea is not worth discussion. It doesn't include ______ criteria or align with the ______ method." As professionals, management consultants can do better than intellectual or methodological parochiality.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client service  consulting process  consulting tools  intellectual property  knowledge assets  product development  professionalism  your consulting practice 

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