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When Consultants Can Add Value To Social Innovation Projects

Updated: Jun 6

Consultants have a reputation for being expensive and unnecessary at times, but this article highlights several situations where bringing in outside expertise can really help social sector organisations achieve their goals. Tracey Newman (she/her) and I, who run a consulting firm ourselves, discuss the benefits consultants can provide for social innovation projects.

Fresh Perspectives and Specialised Knowledge

Consultants are able to look at problems with fresh eyes, potentially spotting solutions that those deeply embedded in an organisation may miss. They also bring specialised knowledge developed from working with many different clients. This expertise can help organisations navigate complex issues and opportunities that internal teams may not feel confident tackling alone.

Driving Needed Change

A common reason organisations hire consultants is because change can be difficult for internal teams. Consultants have a clear mandate to improve processes and drive innovation. Tracey notes that they can help facilitate change more effectively than internal teams who may face resistance. I enjoy this aspect of consulting work, finding it rewarding to implement improvements that internal advocates struggled to achieve.

Reducing Risk Through Expert Guidance

By drawing on extensive experience, consultants can reduce the risk of failures or missteps when organisations take on new challenges. Their frameworks and tools developed over many projects make complicated processes straightforward. This expert guidance provides peace of mind for organisations venturing into unfamiliar territory.

Building Sustainable Capacity

Rather than acting as a permanent fix, effective consultants focus on developing internal skills and systems. Through training, workshops, and guidance, they help organisations continuously improve long after a project ends. We emphasise building innovation into core operations to make a real impact - not just solving isolated problems. This approach supports social sector goals far into the future.

With the right focus on expertise, change management, and capacity building, consultants can be valuable partners for social innovation when utilised strategically. Their contributions go beyond immediate project delivery to strengthen an organisation's ability to create positive change.

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