Andy Robinson: When Consultants Mess Up

Shared from Andy Robinson:

I want to share a dirty little secret: Just like everyone else, consultants are imperfect. 

Do I hear you laughing? I hope so, because that’s a joke … and it isn’t.

After 27 years in the business, I’ve observed a variety of mistakes, miscues, and missed opportunities – including many of my own. Which got me wondering: Should consultants pledge some sort of Hippocratic Oath in the same way that doctors do? 

What would we include in that oath? Which bad behaviors are we trying to avoid? 

Consultants: First, Do No Harm

Today’s post begins with a story about a strategic planning retreat that went off the rails, and how the facilitators responded (or didn’t). From there, we dive into several problematic consultant behaviors, including:

  • Inflexibility
  • Over-reliance on too few tools and strategies
  • Doing the client’s work for them

To be super-clear, I love consultants and believe in what we do. I’ve interacted with many, many excellent peers. My referral list includes dozens of individuals and firms I implicitly trust – and I’m thrilled to send them work. 

This community is broad, deep, diverse, and often brilliant. And you know what? We still mess up. 

Today’s post explores how, and how we can do better. Take a look, then add your comments, concerns, and experiences. Let’s start a conversation.


PS. Speaking of consulting, I am delighted to be part of the Nonprofit Training and Consulting Certificate, hosted by Common Good Vermont.