Top seven ways an outsider has the edge

They can give you a strategic advantage

If you are in charge of strategic planning, change initiatives, restructuring or redesign efforts in your organization, it can give you an advantage to bring in someone from the outside to assist in your efforts.  Many executives responsible for these processes assume that only someone from inside their organization can truly understand how to think about and plan change, but insiders may continue to re-engineer the same solutions over and over, not producing the needed results. Here are some of the reasons why an outsider brings value:

  1.  Front line employees often feel safer with someone from outside. Managers and employees will be honest in a way they won’t be with an insider, regardless of whether you have a “safe to say” environment. Change managers have the emotional intelligence that enables them to elicit information in a way that makes people feel safe, as well as the ability to offer anonymity to people in the service of building trust and confidence.  Can you afford not to capitalize on the valuable insights of your employees?
  1.  It is easier to see the whole picture from outside the frame. A good change manager is a big-picture, agile thinker who can quickly assimilate large amounts of information.  You know your organization better than anyone, of course, but someone from the outside may be able to see things in a way that you can’t, and may spot critical issues that are invisible from the inside.
  1. With no “dog in the fight,” an outsider can help you sort what is important from what isn’t important, and use that information to guide your process.  An outsider is an objective arbiter who can offer a fresh and clear perspective, with no preconceived notions, and no agenda with respect to internal politics.
  1.  Someone from outside hasn’t heard all the internal storylines before, and therefore has the ability to listen in a different way. In fact, external change managers are trained to do exactly that and will hear things differently, or hear different things, than you or someone else inside your organization.
  1. A top-notch consultant can see what adjustments to make, and who the strongest leaders are to drive the change. They have no goal except to develop a truly effective and successful plan. An external change professional often brings a wide range of experience to the table, and this will inform their recommendations and can guide your process in surprising and beneficial ways. This incredibly practical skill is a by-product of experience gained from working with many kinds of businesses and organizations.
  1. The right consultant can best assess how to make changes “in the box.“ From the outside, a change manager can offer options that you and your people may not think of in the context of your organization, and challenge assumptions you take for granted.
  1. This cannot be stressed enough: When you are trying to make a change, at any level, in any way, your people are likely to tell you what they think you want to hear.  Let’s face it, they want to keep their jobs. But they will tell someone from the outside what they really think about the new process, and probably some things you don’t know about how things really get done. Unfiltered feedback from the people inside, even if the nuances are subtle or seem incremental, can create an exponential effect that tips the balance between success and failure, and resistance and acceptance.  

It is not hard to find examples of failed change initiatives. Perhaps there have been some in your own organization.  Ask yourself if the insights above were really being leveraged in the ways that could have brought you the results you were looking for.


Categories: Management & Leadership, Web Exclusives