We Are All Consultants

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at markmullaly.com.

Let’s try a little thought experiment.

I’d like you to take a couple of seconds to consider what you think about when you reflect on the following word: consultant.

If you are like many, the ideas that you came up with probably echoed many of the following: “Expert.” “Highly paid.” “External.” “Independent.” “Suit.” “Objective.” “Dispenser of advice.”

So far, so stereotypical. And as with many stereotypes, there is a kernel of truth in these terms. I work as a consultant. I’ve had all of these labels (and far worse) applied to me. It goes with the territory.

At the same time, I’ve been a consultant (and known it) for far longer than I’ve actually worked for a consulting firm. My entire career has been about projects on one hand, and consulting on the other. Most of the consulting that I do has been about projects, and about project management. And while I’ve been an external consultant for more than two decades, I was an internal consultant before that.

The idea of internal consultant ebbs and flows. It’s been around for awhile (certainly long enough for me to know that is what I was). And there are some advantages to consultants being internal to the organization. A big one is familiarity; internal consults know at an intimate level of …

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"Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater."

- Albert Einstein