Lead, Follow, Or...

So your company has decided to hire a consultant. Somewhere in your organization, the people with the power to make these decisions has recognized that you need help. You're probably taking on a big project--a redesign, a site replatforming, the implementation of a big new enterprise software package--and you either don't have the skill set in-house or need additional resources to make it happen. 

So now what? Now, you need to let the experts do what you hired them to do. Too often, between the time when the decision was made to bring in outside help and the actual arrival of the outside help, a feeling arises in the organization. A feeling that's maybe a little bit resentment ("Look at how much we're paying these people!") or a little bit defensiveness ("It may be a mess, but it's our mess"), but in any case a feeling that can subtly pervade the project and over time undermine the working relationships between the in-house project team members and the consultants. 

It may be hard to accept that the consultants work a different way than you do ("But as an organization, we've embraced the X methodology") and maybe the deliverables are in a different format ("We always put that kind of document in Excel"), but stepping outside your comfort zone, taking a little leap of faith (after all, you did carefully vet this company before you hired them, right?), and opening up to shared learning will go a long way to helping ensure a successful project.