Lean Consulting and Training

 

Internal vs. External Consultants


New perspective of the external consultant:

One of the most valuable benefits is the new perspective. Complacency is a factor. It is part of our nature as humans. In fact, everyone to some extent, is guilty of complacency. When a person continues to see something every single day it becomes ingrained. The same applies to problems and unrealized opportunity for improvement. In some cases we have spent less than 30 minutes in a facility and discovered huge opportunities that were, to us, fairly obvious. These opportunities were obvious primarily because we had not been exposed to that specific environment on a daily basis. Subconsciously people learn to accept certain details as being inevitable or a natural part of a process simply because we see it constantly. Phrases we frequently hear when visiting clients are "I'm not really sure", "It has always been done that way", "I hadn't noticed that until now", or "I have never given it any thought". This is no way implies incompetence. Rather, it reveals the human tendency to accept or ignore certain conditions in the environment due to constant exposure. A fresh pair of eyes from the outside is often an excellent tool for identifying problems and/or opportunities.

Employee perception of the internal consultant:

Another challenge faced by internal consultants is the limitations associated with the internal hierarchy. Associates know that consultant's status within the hierarchy. The internal consultant's ideas or recommendations are often taken lightly even by subordinates. The reason is simple. People realize that there is an established chain of command and that the internal consultant's projects, regardless of how potentially beneficial, must go through levels of approval. Therefore, there is a lower level of confidence in the internal consultant. Employees may see this person as "without the level of power" needed to get action. One benefit to an internal consultant, depending on the character and performance history of the person, is trust.

Because there are no preconceptions of where an external consultant fits within your hierarchy, the consultant is also more capable of moving between levels in the chain of command to gather information. In this way, we can get a more holistic view.


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