Misconceptions on what consultants can offer

As we previously talked about shaping expectations of what a consultant is (as there can be misunderstandings), there are also misconceptions about the consultant's work and approach; about what they do. Here we attempt to address those misconceptions, and shed a bit of light on what consultants can really offer! I've listed some of the major misconceptions below, with clarification. MYTHS OF CONSULTING:*

X Consultants are "one-way-experts" - the consultant doesn't always have the best answer - it depends! The best results come from working collaboratively with the consultant - where your shared expertise, opinions and experience can be combined for the best results.

X Consultants have "been there, done that" - even if the consultant has addressed a similar problem in a similar org., it does not mean that their project with you will be successful. The relationship between consultant and client is most important in addressing the organization's unique needs, and formulating a solution that can be attained by the client.

X Consultants are detached and objective - consultants need to become part of the organization's system to be effective - and that means becoming attached and involved in the process. Yes - they have objective views, but are invested in mutual success.

X There is only one way, one solution to this problem - Depending on the consultant, different approaches and different solutions can be realized that are equally as beneficial to the company. Be open to alternatives.

X Consultants will teach me "best practices" - best practices are a benchmark created by high-performing companies - but "best practices" aren't an indicator of organization effectiveness - it's how applicable practices are best applied to your unique needs.

X The problem our company has is isolated - it probably isn't - fixing it may bring up another issue in another department, or fixing it may fix something else.  It may be a marketing problem, but it probably affects sales, human resources, management, etc.  That doesn't mean you shouldn't attempt to solve each problem in isolation; just don't expect the solving of one problem to solve all other problems.

*Adapted from: "Field Guide to Consulting and Organizational Development with Non-Profits" by Carter MacNamara