I originally wrote this essay as part of a GRE practice test, and as I completed it, I couldn’t help but think of the corporate clients I’ve worked with who could benefit from its sentiment. In some ways, it departs from my usual content on here, as I rarely write about the business world, even while I am occasionally consulting within it.
In the end, though, the lessons here are ones for people in any industry or field: bring on board a tremendously diverse workforce, empower them, listen to them, and you will be the most successful entity in your field.
From a Consultant: Why Your Business Doesn’t Need a Consultant
There’s an old business adage that says, “If you want someone to state the obvious, hire a consultant.” Yet business consulting and organizational development is a billion-dollar industry in the United States. Often, though, these consultants are hired before the organization even looks to the brilliance of its own team for solutions. In the knowledge-based economy, businesses that rely on outdated, top-down structures of leadership are being left behind.
Businesses that maximize the power of the team through effective feedback mechanisms while encouraging and fostering creativity in their team are far less likely to need a consultant to help them grow and prosper.
Listen to Your Employees
For the vast majority of consultants, the consulting process begins with a period of data gathering. This data can range from expenses and profit margins to personnel files, but more often than not, it draws upon the experiences and voices of every member of the organization to diagnose any problems that may exist and to help the business create a plan forward. In short, consultants are hired to tell businesses what they should already know.
Through interviews with employees, surveys with clients, and an analysis of the leadership structure, effective consultants can determine with little effort whether a business is exploiting the collective brilliance of all of its team and easily offer plans for doing so more adeptly.
Notably, then, businesses that have a structure for listening to team members and for fostering creativity in employees are those least likely to benefit from the services of a consultant.
This is because those that need consultants to tell them how to proceed are far more likely to be operating from outdated business models based on top-down leadership structure where creativity is seen as primarily driven from those “appointed” as leaders within the organization. The problem, though, is that this business model was designed in the time of a different economy. The strictly labor-based economy dictated that “creative” employees designed products that the “labor” would simply execute and build.