Why hiring a consultant is good business

Why would a successful business owner need a consultant?

Well, Sydney Crosby and David Beckham use coaches; Barack Obama and Stephen Harper use advisors; prolific author James Patterson uses editors.

We’re not all things to all people or, for that matter, to ourselves. One of the greatest Canadian thought leaders, Marshall McLuhan, wrote of the “mixed media effect,” meaning that expertise in one area was often unjustifiably thought to be transferable to other areas (which just may be why you find so many rock stars spouting political advice).

We need consultants because they:

  • Bring best practices from other organizations.
  • Aren’t swayed by internal politics or turf battles.
  • Aren’t cowed by their retirement plan or next promotion at risk.
  • Can objectively find and report evidence and conclusions.
  • Are cost effective—they enter, engage, and leave (or should).
  • Represent expertise we don’t have and don’t need to acquire.
  • Validate what we already know to provide us with assurance.
  • Will “rock the boat” if they must, even burn it to the ground.
  • Are free from cultural taboos and “not invented here” delimiters.

Avoiding industry bias

Industry bias occurs when you blindly follow your industry’s best practices because that’s what everyone else does. True innovation, on the other hand, often comes from outside your industry. For example, Southwest Airlines and their Canadian copycat, WestJet, prove that modeling their business more like an Indy car pit crew can increase employee speed, reduce time on the ground and increase flying time, where the money is made.

A fresh set of eyes can see things that you’ve become accustomed to out of habit. As we say, it’s hard to read the label from inside the bottle. What arises are broad experience and best practices from other industries; international perspectives; leveraged technology to provide service; and leveraged strengths to pursue the best opportunities and new opportunities.

Outstanding consultants can be effective at all organizational levels and see the gestalt, not just a single issue, department, or concern, which is the problem of internal and highly focused management. Thus, great consulting help sees the organization as an entity, including all of its interrelated parts and aspects.