It’s impossible to imagine, with the growing importance of authenticity in marketing, that the practice of consulting for non-profits could avoid similar evolutionary pressures.

I learned about consulting 1.0 at a direct mail firm I worked at for a while. The rules went something like this:

  • Leave no opportunity to kiss ass un-captured, but never let the client think he/she is smarter than you;
  • Create just enough confusion and obfuscation in what you do to make it seem beyond the client’s reach to fully understand (this particular firm scrubbed formulas out of spreadsheets before letting clients see them);
  • Never ever ever say “I don’t know” to a client’s question — if you don’t know the answer, make it up. The unofficial credo of the place was “often wrong, never in doubt.”
  • Never bring different clients together — they might compare notes and accuse you (rightly) of unequal treatment.

My brief and unhappy tour of duty at a major software vendor taught me one other old school tactic:

  • Don’t speak plain English when business gibberish will do. There was a whole lot of “leveraging synergies” going on. I don’t think this ever tricked customers into thinking we knew more than they did, but I do think it occasionally bored them into submission.

So what does consulting look like in a “2.0” world?

Herewith is our start at what we are calling the creed of the “un-consultant.” It’s only a start, and we’d love your input into its evolution:

  • Assume the client has as much to teach you as vice versa.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “I dont know.” But try to get the answer…
  • Declare victory when the client learns the ropes on their own.
  • Don’t engage if you don’t sincerely think you can help.

What would you add to this list????