Four Criteria to Evaluate Organizational Consultants

You will know the value of the advice you receive from a consultant. Deficienttheir advice is based on the underlying theoretical models. Chris Argyris, in his eye-opening and powerful book “The Argyris Book”, argues this.Flawed Advice, Management Trap.” Argyris analyses representative examples of more than 100 books and many articles published by the top business gurus around the globe. Then he uses his theory of action (theoryofaction) to evaluate their advice. He studied the work of John Kotter and Jon Katzenback as well as Peter Drucker, Stephen Covey, John Kotter and Jon Katzenback. He concluded that while some of the advice provided by these authors is compelling and appealing, most of it is not. It is not possible to take action. Also, even if managers could implement all of the suggestions made by business leaders, the resultant corrective actions wouldn’t lead to the kind and lasting improvement claimed by the authors.

Argyris states that although they do not intend to offer inconsistencies and gaps in their advice, they must have something in the frameworks they rely on that makes them both aware of these issues and even worse. These four criteria are derived from the groundbreaking book and can be used by managers to assess whether corrective actions suggested by internal or external consultants will lead to positive, long-term change within their organization.

  • Reliable: To what extent are the corrective actions based on an underlying theoretical model of organizations, work-groups, human interaction, and cognitive operations-preferences that is Reliable, e.g. It describes and predicts the actions and interactions of organizations, work-groups and their people?
  • Valid? : To what extent do the corrective actions depend on the reasoning and assumptions behind them? ValidIn the sense that they have been considered, made explicit and subjected to scrutiny and public testing to determine the “organizational truth”. Validity helps avoid the self-fulfilling and self-sealing cycle that creates and sustains ineffective-invisible cultural norms, organizational defense mechanisms, tacit beliefs and assumptions that are not reliable (as defined above) and are based on stereotypes, and patterns of interaction between key personnel that create destructive conflict that frustrates and undermines high-performance.
  • Take Action? : In what proportion are corrective actions? Take action in the sense that: a) they outline detailed concrete behaviors that will produce the desired results, b) they can be crafted so people can be taught and learn the concepts, behaviors, and skills required to produce the desired results, and c) the implementation of the corrective actions will not be frustrated and/or undermined (overtly-covertly, intentionally-unintentionally) by the organizational context and cultural norms within which they are embedded?
  • CommitmentWhat extent will corrective actions result in a change? ExternalCompare InternalCommitment to achieve, and this message is clear and unambiguous for all participants. External commitment is when a manager or staff member participates in the corrective actions process. They will also be assessed on their performance goals. Management and staff members must have internal commitment to the corrective actions process. This means they will adopt the corrective action model, knowledge, and philosophy as part of their personal values system. Different levels of commitment are required for different groups within an organization. Top managers and middle managers need to have internal commitment while staff members and supervisors only require external commitment.

Argyris assumes, of course, that managers who hire consultants firms are also managers Actually, you wantIt provides advice that pinpoints the root causes of poor performance, and leads to positive, long-lasting, and sustainable change. However, field experience in organizations has shown that this is not always true. Consulting interventions are often conducted without the intention of actually implementing change or taking corrective actions on the identified issues. Instead, the intervention of consulting firms is often done to placate higher-up managers and appear to take “action” in order to resolve situations or to control conflict and toxicity that have been going on for too long. Managers who employ external consultants or internal advisors in the above-mentioned ways should not bother to read Argyris’ monumental book. Managers who do not use consultants or external firms should read Argyris’ massive book. Actually, you wantThe wisdom and insights contained in this book will help you make long-term, sustainable and positive changes. Flawed AdviceBefore they spend one more day of organization consulting.

Bottom lineIf a consulting company or individual consultant is unable to clearly articulate the theoretical foundations upon the which their interventions and advice are built, and if their approach towards working with organizations and people within them does not meet these criteria, then you should not expect to get long-term, sustainable and positive changes in your organization.

We are a team of professionals with each having two decades of experience in start-ups, sales, marketing, finance, HR, large scale project and profit centre management and running mature cross functional operations. At we are big believers that knowledge transfer is critical to our industry’s evolution. We love to share our experiences and learnings through our online resources.

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