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Consultant or Peer Group? 10 Reasons to Choose a Tribe First!

Leading the Tribes Book Cover

A CEO realizes a difficult challenge needs external knowledge and experience.  The first idea is to hire a consultant that specializes in the area of concern.  It is much cheaper than recruiting a specialist to the team full time.  The consultant can be used to solve the problem, give direction, and then disappear.  Problem solved; or is it?  Who is going to help with implementation hurdles as they occur?  What if the implementation uncovers issues not surfaced in the beginning?  What happens if the problem changes and the plans need to be adjusted?  Yikes, we need to call them back.

Peer groups that function at a deep level are not always the first choice for solving business problems.  Many people fear transparency and feel like others cannot possibly understand the problems we face.  How can someone that is not in my world conceptualize the enormity of what I am facing?  Our business is different?  Our approach is unique!  Is it really?

I am a fan of bringing in expertise to solve problems.  It can be a smart and effective method to get better, improve the business, and create growth.  Consultants are a very important and a necessary part of the business ecosystem. There are situations when a consultant is the best choice.  Should they be the first choice?  A trusted group of peers can help you make the best decision faster with more confidence.  Following are ten ideas to help you contrast the difference between the two choices:

  1. Peer groups really understand your business and your culture. A consultant will spend your money to learn about your business and your culture.
  2. Peer groups have no agenda other than your improvement. A consultant must generate long term revenue to survive.
  3. Peer groups have likely experienced something similar and can offer suggestions to solve the problem internally. Consultants may offer you the same suggestion they offered your competition or vice versa.
  4. Peer groups stay with you after implementation and help you work on the problem long-term. Consultants must move on at some point and may not support you without spending more money.
  5. Peer groups should challenge your thinking and your decisions. Consultants may tell you what you want to hear in order to avoid confrontation and possibly losing your business.
  6. Peer groups will surface your deeper level problems. Consultants may only solve superficial issues (WHAT YOU HIRED THEM TO SOLVE aka course and scope) and never address root problems.
  7. Peer groups will hold you accountable to execute solutions. Consultants give you solutions and depart.
  8. Peer groups care about you as an individual. Consultants rarely have the time invested to form deep and meaningful relationships.
  9. The best peer groups are not in the same business and can ask the best, dumb questions. Consultants often specialize in your business and avoid asking dumb questions.
  10. Peer groups question your answers. Consultants give you answers.

Bonus:  Peer groups are often less expensive than consultants or hiring full time expertise.

Finding a peer group that becomes your tribe can be the best addition to your business.  They learn your quirks and hang-ups.  They know your fear and insecurities. The right tribe knows your flaws and loves you anyway.