If you read Changemaker Bootcamp’s “Big Picture,” you may have noticed that I contrast the bootcamp model to hiring a consultant. As someone who worked as a consultant for over a decade, I am well-aware of the benefits and limitations of consulting. A good consultant can have a transformative effect on the right organization at the right time. In my experience, most organizations that look to hire consultants are not at this stage. In many ways, I designed Changemaker Bootcamp to offer a better model.
I wrote about this in more detail on my personal blog, where I used strategic planning as an example. Most organizations — especially nonprofits — view strategic planning as a process to develop a plan, and they often look to consultants to guide them through the process. The reality is that developing a strategy is the process of asking and exploring the right questions. All of us are capable of doing it, it’s just that some of us have more practice at it than others. But practice is something that everyone can and should do.
Developing this particular capacity through practice rather than hiring a consultant to lead you through a process has a number of benefits. First, most consultants don’t have a lot of practice at developing effective strategies themselves. There’s no accountability or feedback mechanisms, and so consultants can get away with being bad at their craft, and organizations can get away with continuing to spend money on consultants regardless of results.
Second, the real point of strategic planning isn’t to develop a strategy. The point is to act strategically. A good consultant can help you do that, but what they are essentially doing in those situations is hand-holding you through the process. They are essentially acting as very expensive personal trainers, who are also doing a lot of other extraneous things, because that is what people expect consultants to do. A personal trainer can be a great way to get fit, but there are a whole lot of cheaper alternatives.
In most situations, a bootcamp would have a far greater bang-for-the-buck than hiring a consultant. It applies to helping groups act more strategically, work more collaboratively, be more adaptive, and learn collectively and continuously.
Want to Try This?
At least that’s what I believe. And so now I want to start testing this. I’d like to do a “group bootcamp” with a cohort from the same organization or network. I hope to do a 12-week pilot. The exact timing and pricing would depend on the size of the group. These experiments would run in parallel to the current Changemaker Bootcamp.
It also does not need to be a place-based group. I have told many people that this model can be done over the Internet. Instead of just talking about it, I’d be happy to demonstrate it.
If you’re interested in exploring the possibilities, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.