Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ask and ye shall...

Every semester, I get at least one student who constantly asks for help, but won't follow it. For one reason excuse or another - I already tried that, I can't do that because... - the same student who reels me in throws what I offer right back in the lake.

Ry Rivard's article "Consultants' best case scenarios rarely reality" from Inside Higher Ed strikes up a conversation that isn't generally part of the regular cycle of griping in post-secondary, but it's definitely one with some deep implications about the state of affairs.

The article refers to a new study from the Education Advisory Board analyzing the cost-reduction efforts suggested by outside consultants. The first takeaway is that although the colleges involved did see savings, the study reports, those savings were far less than what the consultants projected if their recommendations were adopted. The second is that the savings came from the same two places: procurement and organizational redesign. In other words, buy less stuff and Six Sigma the workforce.

What gets me is the statement from Barry Swanson quoted in the article:

“The key to making a consultant-assisted project work doesn’t lie with the consultant; it lies with the university.” (emphasis mine)

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