By Terry K. Gilliam

Terry K Gilliam, CEO Synecticsworld

Since the dawn of consulting, when leather was first fashioned into a briefcase, clients have questioned if they received the appropriate level of benefit from the time and money that they invested by engaging consultants. The stories of consultants’ reports placed on shelves, the contents and recommendations either rejected outright or ignored, are too numerous to be merely folklore. This is amazing because, in general, consultants are engaged when an organization needs breakthrough thinking to address critical issues within their business—when action is needed and failure is not an option.

If you were to collect all the reasons why consulting projects “failed,” the most common response would be that they did not understand our business. That statement has a very broad meaning. It is difficult for an outsider to fully understand the internal and external context of a firm, regardless of how much time they spend trying to reach a level of understanding.

At the heart of many of the problems is the natural tendency to reject ideas introduced from the outside – the Not Invented Here (NIH) syndrome. NIH is present in all organizations and creates a substantial barrier to accepting and adopting the work of consultants.  An insight into the depth of NIH can be drawn from a recent posting on the HBR network that referenced some prior research done regarding a lottery.

In the study, half the group had a lottery number assigned and half the group picked their own lottery number. The research team then offered to purchase the lottery ticket back from each member.  They found that it cost five times as much to purchase the tickets of the people who had picked their own number. No matter what type of group they worked with, this result remained consistent. They concluded that people are five times more committed to an outcome when they are able to choose for themselves.

If you take this research and relate it back to the dilemma on engaging consultants to help at critical times, it is easy to draw a link between the two. How much commitment will there be to an idea invented by outside consultants and not invented by the individual, team, or group responsible for its development, implementation and success?

If people are five times more committed to ideas that they have played a role in developing than in ideas generated by others,  that leads me to conclude that when you have an issue that you absolutely need to resolve and for which failure is not an option, your organization needs to;

  1. Find a way to tap into the inherent creativity of its people.
  2. Provide a climate where those people feel safe to be speculative, risk-taking, and creative.
  3. Have faith that your people have the ability to solve the organization’s problems.

In our 50 years of experience, Synecticsworld has witnessed that everyone has an inherent capacity for creativity and the ability to work as part of a group to solve the most complex of challenges.  Organizations may need assistance in tapping these capabilities through training and designing the most effective process, but the core ability is there.

If the research data tells you that the level of commitment can be increased by five times, then

  1. Unleash the power within your organization, for a strategy that ensures the highest level of achievement and success.
  2. Your people, who help create the ideas, will be more committed to the ideas and to the organization.
  3. Your people will have experienced an organization that trusts them, listens to them and allows them to be part of developing the solutions to the organizations most important and complex challenges.

To see the full HBR posting, please follow the attached link

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