Monday, February 3, 2014

How important are credentials for strategic planning consultants and which have proven most helpful for members of this group?—taken from a Linked-in discussion group

Steven Worth, Plexus Consulting Group, LLC

Good for us. I think it is a sign a profession is coming of age when there is a critical mass of people earning a living from it and when formalistic techniques and approaches are developed and debated as to which is better than another.

But I think we enter dangerous territory if and when we start to lose sight of our purpose: to help organizations better identify and articulate their goals and to realize them in the most efficient and effective ways possible. In this regard we have a very business-like purpose and tools like market research, data manipulation, financial spread sheet analyses, and business plan development are all very useful.

But in the nonprofit world we also deal with intangibles like "purpose" and organizations that are held together and driven by their visions and missions. These factors require a certain amount of right brain thinking--using those creative impulses to seek out and tap into those elemental historic forces and emotions that inspire people.

And because we are dealing with groups that have flat structures that are dependent on volunteers communications skills are critical--without them even the best ideas just lie there.

In my mind, these are all critical factors to be considered for what goes into strategic planning skills set--but there is more. If we are special as a profession then so should we recognize that others are as well. University professors, doctors, lawyers, leaders of faith-based groups, manufacturers, truck drivers, artists, the list is as long as we can imagine--all have their own terminologies, problems, personalities, concerns, and aspirations and if a consultant is not intimately familiar with them the gap between them and their clients can be fatally wide.

So I think it is fine that we should be trying to organize ourselves as a profession--but I also think that profession will be short-lived if it does not incorporate a certain amount of humbleness in the recognition that our purpose is to serve, which includes knowing our clients and adapting to their needs.

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