Consultant Wasteland: The Conversation Continues


Today’s post was inspired by the exercise in censorship that recently appeared on the ASAE Acronym blog.

There was a post entitled “Consultant Wasteland”. It was a really insightful post about the relationship between staff & the consultant. If you haven’t seen it yet, myself and Maddie Grant have shared the post on Google Buzz since it was still in our Google Readers after the post was pulled down. If it’s still in your reader, I invite you to share it with your followers as well.

There are two things that have struck me about the post and the surrounding situation:

1. That consultants should push the boundaries, move us forward. They should lead innovation and as staff we need to empower them, questing to be more than just average.

2. Censorship is alive and well. As a community we should be able to handle perceived criticism, even though my interpretation is not that this post was critical, but that it was a challenge for us as a community to do better.

On point number one, as association staff we should take pride in the work we do, own it and strive to be better. Sometimes we need a little helping pushing our own boundaries, so we bring in consultants. It’s an interesting dynamic that develops. On one hand we want to move forward, on another, we want to control what happens.

My question is, do we shoot ourselves in the foot?

There are also unfortunate cases where the consultant isn’t as wonderful once we hire them. A consultant walks in, dazzles you with the hope of what could be and then the actual performance is lack luster. Though I don’t think people like it talk about, we have to admit that it happens, unfortunately.

So how do we avoid this? Do we educate ourselves first before making our a choice? It’s a difficult situation, you hire the consultant to be your expert, but how can you tell if someone is a true expert unless you educate yourself first?

Basically, I have a lot of questions and it’s a topic that deserves us as a community delving into.

So moving on to point number two…

I’m a little disturbed by ASAE removing the post. It doesn’t strike me as a move made by the people at ASAE that actually do the social media for the organization. It seems like a C-Suite move, but I have no facts to back it up. What bothers me most though is that we as a community cannot have an open and frank discussion without someone freaking out about it. In the association world, it seems like we are always reacting to things. We’re putting out fires. I challenge myself and others to stand tall to let the conversation flow. Without being frank and open, we’ll just keep talking in the same old circles. So how are we going to move forward?

(photo credit)


6 Responses to “Consultant Wasteland: The Conversation Continues”

  1. 1 Nick

    Thanks for linking to the public reader version, it’s the first time I’ve seen it. My reaction: is THAT worthy of being censored? Oh my gosh, after my most recent experiences in the association industry, I was fairly certain that it was not a place I wanted to be, but THIS?? Scott got in trouble for THIS?? Oh my gosh, these d-bags talk about “leadership” and then can’t handle this, which is just some earnest, thought-provoking conversation? What an embarrassment to the entire association industry. It’s cool, though, nobody knows what that is anyway.

  2. “Oh my gosh, these d-bags talk about “leadership” and then can’t handle this, which is just some earnest, thought-provoking conversation?”

    Nick is my new hero!

  3. RoFL, douchebaggery would be the word for the censorship that occurred. Remember associations are constantly put in a place of reacting. We’re reacting to Boards, our Members, Public Policy, etc. Reaction lives in our culture, so why would we expect anything else?

  4. Nice post, MissLynn13. And thanks for your perspective on the original content about consultants. And I’m totally laughing at Nick’s comment. Still…

    I’m going to defend my association a bit here. (I know…huh?) I think every organization–especially the ones as large and diverse as ASAE–are going to have growing pains and make mistakes. I had a nice face-to-face chat with Peter and Scott about all this, and I was left with the overwhelming sense that everyone was just trying to do the right thing. Was it the right thing? I say no. And I love that I get to say no–on Acronym, on my own blog, here, on Twitter. And you know what? ASAE is listening. I don’t know if, when, or how they’ll ultimately respond, but I do know that they are hearing all of our criticism and taking it to heart. How cool is that?

    So I’m happy that we’ve all made our feelings known. (And will no-doubt continue to make our feelings known.) And I have faith that ASAE will learn from this episode and make better decisions in the future. And as an ASAE member and volunteer, I’m willing to take on the personal responsibility of helping to shape ASAE into the organization that I need.

  5. I will always give credit to ASAE for listening, that is one thing they do very well and a major reason why I love being a member. So though they don’t always make the best choices (just like everyone else, including myself), I’ve always felt like they’ve learned & responded to their members with dignity & respect. I just wish they hadn’t removed Scott’s great post. 😉

  6. 6 ccematson

    I read the original post and thought nothing of it. What did focus my attention on it, however, was you and other bloggers pointing out that it had been taken down. The removal of the post was a much bigger story (and had a much bigger effect) than the original post itself (just like evidence of a cover-up turns a minor crime into a major incident).

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