I was recently listening to an episode of Reid Hoffman’s podcast, Master of Scale. He was talking about the process of hiring his replacement at LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner, and that, at one point, Jeff scoffed at the idea of working with management consultants. For one, Jeff used to be a management consultant and still knew how to exercise that muscle. Secondly, as Jeff put it, “consultants are mostly known for taking your watch and telling you what time it is”. 

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We’ve all heard similar sentiments. Executives need consultants to justify a bold initiative to their board. Boards need a third-party to advise them through a merger to appease shareholders. In these generalizations, consultants are serving as glorified notetakers. Make the numbers work to appease the client. Create a plan in isolation, not one rooted in market-data or reality. Smoke and mirrors.

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Do these generalizations change when dealing with consultants in the education and social-impact space?

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We don’t know. We aren’t consultants. We’re strategists, designers, and implementers. We don’t simply “give expert advice” because giving advice doesn’t change outcomes for kids and families. Our organization was built to provide a unique experience for leaders. To offer a suite of strategic services that helps them reimagine their approach to serving kids and families. To get us all closer to educational equity. 

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We don’t want your watch. We know what time it is. 

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It’s time to do the real work. It’s time to commit to data. To co-create with families. To address oppressive systems in our community. To move from panels and convenings to testing, iterating, and adapting. 

As a community, we won’t reach educational equity through expert advice. We’ll only get there through innovation, action, and being bold on behalf of students and families. 

Let’s get to work.  


Action Steps

  1. Hold your advisors/implementers accountable. 
  2. Leave us a comment. Would love to know more about your experience and what you’re thinking.
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