Are Consultants Really Needed?
There are many opinions about consultants. Some people can’t imagine modern life without them, others associate them with insects swarming in the bodies of corporations and firms. Many institutions rely on external consultants not only for advice but also for help in diagnosing and developing strategies related to common and uncommon challenges in a whole host of areas. Ideally, a consultant brings a fresh perspective, best practices from other companies, problem-solving skills, and cost-effective ways of managing the resources. That description paints a rosy picture. But unless institutional leaders assess their needs clearly and choose consultants wisely, the experience can be an exercise in futility. So, are consultants really needed or companies can overcome difficulties alone?
If we go back in the history, the first consulting firm Arthur D. Little (named after its founder) was established in 1886. Mr. Arthur was a chemist from MIT and he is mostly renowned for discovering acetate. Modern consultants are probably not very familiar with Mendeleev’s periodic table, but they have graduated from the best business schools. What can they offer to the clients?
One of the most controversial questions is - why do consultants teach others how to make business instead of making it themselves? This doubt really exists. However consultants’ experience differs from the experience of practising managers. I really like the comparison made by Cyril Parkinson, a famous business-theorist of the 20s century and the author of the law named after him. He compared a manager with a captain who has worked all his life on his own vessel. A consultant is the captain of a rescue vessel, who every day faces calamities and wreck of other vessels. Thus, a consultant is not as good in everyday business management as a director, but he is irreplaceable in crisis or difficult situations, or when a company must make a choice. There are...
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