One of the most important questions that every business faces when contemplating a key strategic initiative is, “Can we do this on our own or should we bring in outside help?” Let me try to shed some light on that question as it relates specifically to becoming more intentional and systematic about your culture.
Over the past 4+ years, I’ve delivered more than 200 workshops for nearly 3,000 CEOs and other senior executives, providing them with the roadmap for the steps necessary to institutionalize their cultures. Some of those companies have chosen to implement the process on their own, and they’ve done so with some success, while others have sought outside help. How should you decide?
Necessary ingredients for going it alone
The primary advantage to trying this on your own, of course, is saving money. If the budget is limited, it may, in fact, be the only choice. Going it alone successfully also requires that you have the following things in place:
- The leadership discipline to get the project completed in the face of other competing tasks
- The skills to articulate your Fundamentals™ with the appropriate clarity
- The facilitation skills to roll it out in a way that engages your workforce
- The ability to coach and teach the Fundamentals to your staff
- The organizational discipline to stay with it over time
If all of these assets are in place, it may make the most sense to implement the process on your own. If not, you may want to consider enlisting outside help.
Why bring in an outsider?
There are five primary reasons most companies choose to engage outside support for a major culture initiative:
- The outside firm owns the project and can drive it to conclusion. Most leadership teams have so many varied responsibilities that it’s hard to stay focused on a new project and get things done. Having an external person drive the process keeps the project on target and keeps the team accountable to completing assigned tasks.
- An outside firm brings wisdom and experience to the process. Put simply, “Why reinvent the wheel?” An outside firm with sufficient experience has “been there and done that.” They know how to avoid pitfalls. They give you the ability to skip the mistakes that newcomers make, so you get to success faster and with fewer hiccups.
- An outside firm knows how to engage your workforce in a way that gets them excited and enthusiastic. The last thing you want your employees thinking is that this is a waste of time or the “flavor of the month.” Experienced facilitators know how to make the rollout an engaging, exciting, and educational experience.
- An outside firm brings a perception of credibility. Employees often hear the message from a credible, outside expert with more seriousness than they do someone from your HR department or leadership team. Bringing in an expert is also a demonstration to your workforce of just how important this initiative is.
- The risk of a failed initiative is minimized. With some efforts, if it doesn’t go according to plan, you can always regroup and try it again another way. Unfortunately, this is hard to do with a culture initiative. Doing an ineffective job of articulating, rolling out, and practicing your Fundamentals creates cynicism that may be difficult to overcome when you try again at a later point. This is one area where it’s best to get it right the first time around.
Obviously, bringing in an outside firm costs money. While this is undoubtedly a significant investment, the cost per employee is likely to be minimal, and it’s an investment in the very foundation of your organization for years to come.
If you’d like to explore further which way is best for you, just give us a call or shoot us an email. We’ll always give you the straight scoop so you can make the best decision for your company.