Cooperation, consulting and Fads LO7468

jack hirschfeld (
Thu, 16 May 1996 22:37:11 -0400

Replying to LO7435 --

John Warfield, replying to LO7413, quoted:

>>Julie has hit the nail on the head of the ethical delimma of many
>>consultants - if I don't do the work the client has asked for will I ever
>>get the chance to do what I know really needs to be done...

and then he soundly advised that:

>It is sometimes possible to ask the client questions like this:
>o If you understand what needs to be done, why haven't you been able to do
>it so far?
>o If you understand what needs to be done, why do you need a consultant?
>o Or, perhaps less pointedly, and with a naive stare: what is it that you
>think that I bring to the table other than the ability to follow

In my opinion, these are excellent approaches to a potential client who
balks at collaboration during the contracting phase, or fails to stand
fast to the bargain once the consultant is engaged.

But there is no ethical dilemma,in my view. Peter Block has described the
consultant role vis a vis the client as either expert, collaborator, or
pair of hands. He places responsibility for contracting for collaboration
squarely with the consultant, since it is likely that the client is
looking for an expert or a pair of hands or both -- but usually not a
collaborator. Geoffrey Bellman has written eloquently of how a
consultant's judgement might be distorted by a desire to eat regular, or
in some cases by simple greed. But the ethics of the situation are clear
to me: a consultant needs to know the answer to Warfield's third question,
and has an ethical obligation to provide THAT.


Jack Hirschfeld Do figures of authority just shoot you down? Is life in the business world a drag?

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>