Seeing the forest through the trees or the inefficiencies in a complex organization can be challenging to any leader/manager that works within the belly of the beast. Yet the idea that managers, bad to good, would consider having someone from outside looking over their shoulder when they know they know more about their business than some outsider is not always a comfortable situation to consider. The question comes down to the degree of confidence a manager has in his/her own abilities to accept advice from someone that hasn’t lived with their issues day to day. Stating the obvious and asking for assistance when progress isn’t happening as fast as you think it should can be unsettling, uncomfortable, and risky depending on the relationship you have with your board, council or governing body and their perception of your job performance. It can also be looked at as a validation of what you have been implementing in order to raise performance and quality of service.
Ultimately in making the decision to bring in a consultant, managers need to perceive the need for outside assistance as both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge being to justify the return on investment and the benefit being the new ideas and/or endorsement of what has already been achieved. If you know and understand that challenging your governing body to fund a consultant for a competitive assessment to add strength to your argument for needed change and value to the organization that is stagnant because something is holding progress in check for a variety of reasons (i.e., lack of adequate funding for training, software, equipment, tools, whatever), will have both consequences and benefits. Good organizations use outside consultants to validate the success and value of the investments being made to achieve a leading edge status. Weak organizations use outside consultants that want to improve as the impetus for change and new investment. They can also use them as a distraction to begin gradual improvements but hold onto old and comfortable systems until new management comes in. Bottom line, the cost benefit of bringing in a consultant to assess progress and condition of the organization is well worth the money if and only if you as the manager and your governing body listen and act on the advice offered.