Part one of a three-piece series equipping leaders with a toolkit to get the most from engaging with a consulting team. Covering reasons to work with a consultant, outcomes to expect, and keys to success, each piece outlines the critical elements for an optimal experience, helping leaders realize the full potential of their organizations.
Running an organization that makes society a better and more just place is a big enough job in itself. Yet leaders are continually asked to do so while faced with funding and capacity challenges. Finding the time to address this can seem insurmountable at times.
Consulting may seem like a lifesaver – especially if it’s funded or free – but many are finding that the time it takes to engage with a consultant is barely within reach. Carving out the time is an enormous effort and commitment, and when it happens, leaders want to know that the effort will pay off with a great return on the investment. The very best consulting experiences keep on giving well beyond the end date of the project, providing dynamic, sustainable solutions that stand the test of time.
Leaders that consider working with a consulting team may do so because they want to hone their unique vision. Many seek assistance with determining strategic goals and direction on taking action immediately or in the years to come. Often, they will take advantage of the insights that rich research and new data from a third party can bring to inform decision-making. Many seek advice on marketing, promotion, and stakeholder engagement to raise greater awareness and attract new clients. Some pursue consulting because they’re rethinking the organizational structure or they’re looking for efficiencies in their operations. Still others are interested in improving the employee experience or staff retention. Sometimes, leaders will want to explore the idea of expanding their scope or creating more relevance.
Getting clarity on revenue and capacity
But what leaders are focused on most, as they brace for more uncertainty in the economic climate, are the ever-present issues of revenue and capacity. Specifically, clarity on future revenue-generators and diversification of revenue streams, while prioritizing and getting creative on sustaining growth – without the burnout.
As a direct result from working with consulting teams, organizations have enjoyed new financing from creating initiatives such as focused fundraising, or laying foundations for a strengthened sponsorship model. Non-profit leaders have benefitted from a more clear understanding of what initiatives generate the most revenue and which programs are the most effective in achieving their goals. They have learned how to work within a framework that provides a compass for where to focus their efforts.
In terms of capacity building, one organization, composed of completely lateral roles, had little distinction between junior, senior, and managerial positions. This left staff feeling there was nowhere to go in the organization and no opportunity to move up. After working with a consulting team, positions were tiered, with levels from entry to senior management, resulting in a less flat and more vertical model, paving a pathway for employees to grow within the organization much longer. The result also provided leadership with more room to focus on strategic initiatives and partnerships.
The power of problem-solving
It’s when one consulting project addresses multiple issues that problem-solving can become exponential. One organization in particular, on the counsel of a consulting team and with their help in articulating the need and benefit, were able to acquire funding to hire for a dedicated marketing and communications position specifically to plan and run a 50th anniversary celebration, create a social media strategy for it, and identify key community partners for cross-promotion – solving for financing, capacity, and promotional challenges all in one.
While the idea of spending time working with a consultant can sometimes seem out of reach, the benefits of a stellar strategic plan from a diverse professional team can open up more room for realizing an organization’s possibilities. Whether from corporate or non-profit mindsets, fresh opinions can make a big difference in turning challenges into opportunity. It is well worth the endeavour.
Part one of a three-piece series equipping leaders with a toolkit to get the most from engaging with a consulting team. Covering reasons to work with a consultant, outcomes to expect, and keys to success, each piece outlines the critical elements for an optimal experience, helping leaders realize the full potential of their organizations. In the next article, we’ll cover some non-negotiables and value-add that make a difference to the impact a project can make.
For the past eight years, Heather Waldman has been helping companies improve overall performance and impact, and clearing pathways for organizations to realize their full potential. As Executive Director at Endeavour Volunteer Consulting, Heather leads a highly skilled volunteer group focused on providing pro-bono management consulting to improve the organizational capacity and community impact of non-profits. Heather and the Endeavour team believe that all organizations should have access to professional services, regardless of their finances