Cooperation, consulting and Fads LO7349

Richard Karash (
Thu, 9 May 1996 23:18:58 -0400 (EDT)

Replying to LO7305 --

A part of this that I've wrestled with for a while is: How do we know when
we are at or beyond the limits of our expertise. If we don't know our
limits, then we're likely to do harm instead of helping.

I got to worrying about this especially after working with a client that
had lots and lots of bad stuff in the air, changing internal alliances,
very strongly held views, big difficulty in succession near the top, ghost
of the founder involked with passion, strange incidents of people falling
out and leaving. And, there had been a suicide a while back.

I don't want to talk about what we did or how we helped (which I believe
we did).

The question on my mind was, "How would I know if a client was sick and in
need of professional psychiatric help? How would I distinguish this from
just a particularly strong personality?"

Part of my ethical view is that a good consultant will be talented enough
to avoid doing harm (like the physician's oath to do no harm). I wasn't
able to get much professional advice during the above mentioned
engagement, but later I consulted a real pro and got some advice on what
to watch-out for.

Why do consultants take work beyond their current capabilities? The
continuous push for revenues, or at least push for near term revenues, is
to blame. I think such a push, if it's not backed by building real depth
capability, is bound to backfire in the long run. Beware, consultants and
firms who try to take on Org Learning work, staying one chapter ahead of
the client...

But, in addition to the money angle, there's also the thrill of trying...

Here's a story told to me many years ago by a long-timer with one of the
big firms. "Why do I do this? Why do I knock myself out year after year,
all the travel, etc. After a while, it's to see if you can do the next
job. And then try another even larger stretch and see if you can pull it
off. Other careers have easier work, but not work with so many
opportunities to try for the next stretch job. It's for the thrill of it!"

I didn't like the sound of that story then and still don't. Sounded like a
gambling addiction, something to be avoided.

-- Rick

On Wed, 8 May 1996, Julie Beedon wrote:

> Why can't we create a community of consultants that really make a
> difference in organisations and act ethically in the process


Richard Karash ("Rick") | <> Speaker, Facilitator, Trainer | email: "Towards learning organizations" | Host for Learning-Org Mailing List (617)227-0106, fax (617)523-3839 | <>

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