Why Use a Change Management Consultant?

Why use a change management consultant? This is a very good question because unless you are very clear about exactly what sort of help you need I would just simply say don’t!

Key factors

There are a number of factors that will have a bearing on how you approach using a change management consultant – or in determining whether you even should do so.

~ Your objective – the deliverable you are seeking. [See comment below re 3 fundamental motivations]. What do really want? An answer or solution that (a) you can implement or (b) someone else can implement for you? A solution and the knowledge and means to be able to replicate it yourself in future?

~ Your company’s size. The smaller you are the more you need to maximise the leverage of your budget. The difficulty you have is that you need the knowledge and expertise but you can’t generally afford to pay someone else to do it.

The larger you are the greater the temptation and tendency to take the easy way out and pass the problem on to external consultants – rather undertaking the diagnosis yourself which is part of what senior management are paid to do and training your own people and/or where necessary hiring interim external support.

~ Your budget – this is usually closely related to the size of your organisation. Thus the larger you the easier it is to “throw money” at the problem with external consultants but avoid taking the difficult steps to resolve the real issue. The smaller you are the greater the tendency to be reluctant to spend any money at all and to just “muddle through”.

~ Your situation – what stage you are at with your change initiative.

- “We’ve done the strategic review, so… how do we do this and make it work…?”

- “We know what we’re doing and we know what the issues are… we just need some extra flexible resource to help get it delivered on time…”

- “We’re up and running, and – we’re up to our necks in alligators…”

~ Your knowledge base – do you know anything about change management and change leadership? Where would you be positioned on a change management maturity model? Do you know what you don’t know?

~ Your company culture re using consultants – this will have a considerable influence on your attitude to and propensity to use any form of external assistance. A “positive” attitude may make it a more acceptable option but increase the likelihood of it becoming the “default setting”. A “negative” attitude may preclude the possibility and for the “wrong” reasons.

3 reasons for seeking any sort of external assistance

(1) Development – via some form of knowledge transfer, education or training

(2) Diagnosis – problem identification, definition and recommended solution

(3) Delivery – implementing a solution to a business need to realise a business benefit

Consultancy – including change management consultants – is only one source of provision for each of these reasons for seeking outside assistance. Other options in addition to or instead of using a change management consultant are:

- Information sources via the internet
- Training courses and building in house capability
- Non-executive directorships
- Business mentoring
- Peer group input and support via various business forums
- Interim management – an excellent option for medium and larger companies with over 500 employees
- Contract resource – similar to interim management but situation specific rather than functional specific as per interim management

Recommendations

If your requirement includes “development” – via some form of knowledge transfer, education or training – then for the small to medium sized enterprise [up to 500 employees] internet sources, training courses and peer group support is the best option. For larger enterprises an interim or contract resource or a smaller bespoke change management consultancy is the recommended route.

A requirement that includes “diagnosis” – problem identification, definition and recommended solution – is best met via a non-executive or some form of business mentoring via trade or business or government sponsored agencies for smaller enterprises. The recommendation for medium and larger enterprises with over 500 employees is for an interim or contract resource or a smaller bespoke change management consultancy.

A requirement for “delivery” – implementing a solution to a business need to realise a business benefit – for a smaller enterprise is best met via a non-executive or some form of business mentoring via trade or business or government sponsored agency. The recommended option for larger enterprises is via an interim or contract resource. I would not recommend using a change management consultant resource unless it had a proven record of change initiative delivery as well as diagnosis.