In conversations with fellow organizational consultants, I often hear that their engagements with their clients are, primarily, supportive in nature. That is, they are there to help that company achieve its strategic goals, whatever those might be. Sounds straightforward enough, right?
Well, perhaps not. First, many firms (the clients) can be rather confused about what their core strategies acutally are, and in particular how an innovation strategy fits into a larger, more maintenance strategy. What should the company be doing in the first place? This was always the first question that Peter Drucker asked his clients at the outset. Simply taking their word for it can lead to the blind leading the blinder!
Blinder? Human resource professionals and organizational consultants, sadly,often either know or care very little about strategy. This is like Forrest Gump’s reply to his drill sergeant on the bus on the way to basic training:
Drill Sergeant: GUMP! What’s your sole purpose in this Army?!
Forrest Gump: To do whatever you tell me, drill sergeant!?
If, and until, we can know as much about the fundamentals of strategy as anyone else in the room, we are just going to be like Forrest Gump, doing what ever the drill sergeant says. In dong this, HR/OD continues to reside near the bottom of the corporate totem pole.
On the other hand, if we start with and have a hand in helping clients devise strategy in the first place, our advisory work will help drive core decisions and behaviors, not just hand holding and supporting ones.