I just received my latest Gurteen Knowledge Newsletter from David Gurteen. David alerts us to a new book by Chris Collison and Geoff Parcell entitled No more consultants: we know more than we think. I have already ordered the book for my personal library and look forward to reading the book when the order arrives.
I have often wondered what the appeal of hiring external consultants is when people already working within an organisation could do the same or even better job at solving a perceived problem. There seems to be an attitude that only good knowledge exists outside the organisation; a situation that I feel undervalues the existing knowledge assets of an organistion, or at best, underutilises that existing knowledge capability. And perhaps this is where knowledge management needs to make more of an inroad – in bringing these knowledge assets out in the open so that they get the righful attention of decision-makers.
Of course there will be times when people are busy working on other things and so a consultancy allows for an issue to be looked at sooner rather than later. But in many situations, it’s almost like the organisation doesn’t think highly of it’s own staff being able to undertake the work, something a bit strange when the staff are best placed to consider the workplace context.
Now before readers get the wrong idea, I do think that consultants have an important role to play, especially in offering a new approach to problems and in looking at issues in a different light. Good consultants really want to help their clients overcome obstacles, look for new opportunities, and solve problems that really matter to an organistion.
I often take on the “consultancy role” when I start a new job or where I want to begin a new project: I seek to determine the current position of the organistion; what are the problems, constraints or concerns about the project or activity; what are the priorities and capabilities within the organisation; how this all fits within the organistion or business unit’s overall strategy and desired outcomes; and then I look at solving problems and issues within the organisational context using whatever combination of people and resources is required for the task at hand.
Management certainly need to consider the effective utilisation of knowledge assets that exist within the organisation as well as what external knowledge assets can bring to an organistion.