Ok, I know, most consultants wouldn’t really like to be referred to as glue or ‘stuff’ (stuff is currently my favourite word). But it is a useful way to think about the value that consultancy can bring to an organisation.
Most external consultants will work across a broad range of clients, issues and sectors. As such they are exposed to lots of different ways of working. Consultants can challenge, encourage, facilitate and cajole organisations towards better ways of working. This will invariably mean either working with other organisations or using examples or experience from others who have done it before. Being able to open up experiences and opportunities for clients to design better interventions, deliver more ambitious results and work in more effective and efficient ways is often more than we are employed to do: strategic reviews, fundraising strategies, programme strategies, evaluations and change programmes. That’s the ‘stuff’ that we do, but the end results often mean organisations have broader, bigger visions and are better linked to others who want to work with them to deliver a social impact.
Recently a client asked me to deliver a strategic review, for what seemed like a fairly straightforward procedural reason. In reality there were unconsidered opportunities and partnerships that will dramatically scale up and build on the existing programme and respond to the client’s already ambitious vision. Highlighting these, and having those conversations in the context of a review allowed partner organisations to learn from each other about what they were doing and how they could better work together as well as what was needed to get them to that partnership-working point.
Using this experience is a great way to spread good practice (or even best-fit practice) between clients and encourage all civil society organisations towards delivering its multi-faceted vision for greater social cohesion. This is the added value of having external consultants come in and work alongside your teams in a focused, value-driven way.
Be sure however that you know why you’re buying the consultancy and ensure your consultant knows what is expected of them. Where would you like to start?