In the good old days a consultant was automatically granted respect and deference-revered as the fount of all knowledge, consultants could happily opine on anything ranging from stratospheric overviews to masterful management insights. In small to medium sized non-profits, consultants were held in particular awe because the organization may have never [or infrequently] brought in a consultant to help draw up a plan, assess operations, or recommend change in governance structure or management process.
Despite the riveting insights of the consultants, and, the hundreds of hours spent by volunteer committee members, it was too often difficult to quantify what positive changes had been made.
Consulting reports were, and are, all too often consigned to shelves in dead storage for years on end, only resurrected as proof positive that the last planning effort went nowhere! Binders of hard copy data and reports provide an important clue to solving this problem.
A new factor has complicated the consulting dynamic-managing information overload. Market research, on-line references, alternative models come pouring into the organization. It has become almost too easy to pull in lots of data from staff, customers, and other stakeholder groups.https://www.surveymonkey.com/ Frank and Magnone's book, Drinking From The Fire Hose, offers useful insights for planners who are having to sift through this overabundance of information. Their most important insight is the imperative to distinguish between something that is "statistically significant' but which, in fact, may not be meaningful.
For those of us who may be decades older than our clients, it is increasingly imperative to pursue professional development on every level. For best practices and comparative data nothing beats:
- For fundraising The Chronicle of Philanthropy Find ideas for giving Tuesday, useful stats, etc.
- For governance Board Source Templates for every sort of board function, research trends
- For business lingo Harvard Business Review C level influencers? Achieving transcendence?
- For trendspotting The Center for the Future of Museums useful for arts, museums, social services.
- For peer recommendations Linked In There is a flood of information from our colleagues.
What are your suggestions for accessible free resources?