My fellow consultants will confirm that very often, organizational problems are clear and apparent from the day one of an engagement with a client. On such occasions, rapid diagnosis and resolution stuns the client and the typical comment is “Wow, thank you, I cannot believe we couldn’t see this ourselves.”

Actually, it is not surprising at all. Self-diagnosis is exceedingly difficult for a variety of reasons, such as the emotional attachment, the too-close-to-the-grinding-wheel myopia and the lack of perspective (“We’ve never thought of it this way”). 

At the same time, we live in the times when the do-it-yourself approach to anything is more popular than ever. There are television programs and literature available on pretty much any avocation or endeavour. This is often taken into such areas as mental health, wellness and marital counselling and there are lots of books on these subjects in your nearest bookstore. Be it do-it-yourself renovation, gourmet cooking or gestalt therapy, there is a sense of empowerment and fascination that comes with seeing and feeling the results.

Unfortunately, the DIY approach that works (cooking, pottery, etc) or sometimes works (nutrition, sports, renovations, personal finance, etc) for an individual, does not work well for organizations. The problem is with identifying the issue that needs to be addressed and, as I have mentioned in the beginning, it can be exceedingly difficult.

And so we have it – a great danger that the key problem is misdiagnosed and the overwhelming propensity to go DIY route. Result: misguided projects, changes that produce little value, lost business opportunities, millions down the drain.

I like DIY (my home-grown tomatoes are probably $50/lb) but I know when to call in a professional. Do you?