In most organizations, the employees know what the problem is. They may not have a nice, watertight definition, they may not know the root causes, or they may not be organized to drive change. This understanding is crucial for preparing for managing change.
Internal employees who wish to drive change typically lack credibility. After all, each person has a role to fulfill, and thus will likely be biased by their charter and agenda. Enter the consultant.
A consultant’s neutrality is valuable, so long as they are not trying to further their agenda and demonstrate how smart they are. Any attempts by consultants to “take over” the business is fraught with danger and doomed for failure.
A consultant will have value when they build on what exists, and acknowledge the current state, applaud its strengths, and validate the limitations. Consultants who brandish a shortcoming with glee, and hope to be hired to fix the problem have just lowered their chances of success.
Consultants who declare their intent to make themselves obsolete, to make the organization self sufficient, and bring stakeholders along the path of change step by step will provide real value. Unless the organization owns the problem and solution, true change will be hard to come by.
Consultants also make convenient scapegoats when things don’t work out. The better consultants will avoid this pitfall and guard against it. The best way to guard against it is to avoid portraying themselves as the savior for the organization.