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Why your project needs a social facilitator

Feb 18, 20043 mins
Access ControlEnterprise Applications

* Winning over your boss

Little did I know that when I asked for your help in finding a way to assure the insecure that a data management project would not be a threat to them, just how much heat and passion I had sparked among you.

Last week, I presented DCI Consulting Sandra Harrell’s, well, rant (that’s what she called it) about the need for a consultant who “understands psychology, technology and socio-economics as well as the technology aspects of the project/goal.” No sooner had that appeared that another friend (and, I believe, another friend of Sandra’s) spoke up.

Ed Harrington is also a respected consultant in the field of identity management and his thoughts have graced this space on occasion in the past (see for example). Ed wrote to mention that he thought Sandra (and, by extension, me) might have been over-stating the situation.

As Ed put it: “Consultants today cannot be facilitators, socializers nor ego satisfier…a consultant must be an objective business analyst.  He or she must be able to provide advice and guidance that moves the organization forward and – most importantly – must find the sponsor that is willing to take the inherent risks that consultancy recommendations entail – change!”

I don’t disagree. Certainly, business considerations need to drive the changes necessary to implement the identity management service or services. But in today’s business climate, finding a “sponsor” (sometimes called a “champion”) just might not be enough.

A good friend of mine is an accomplished scientist and businesswoman. She’s very happy with the organization she works for. But her immediate supervisor is someone who takes the idea of consensus to a new level. This person, while deciding on a course of action, requires that everyone else arrive independently at the same solution. No hints, no orders and certainly no direction – but no changes either. This is the sort of personality that isn’t influenced by technology arguments, and rarely by business considerations. They simply know what’s “right” and expect everyone else does, also. The only way to influence this person is through social means. Someone has to play the role of “facilitator, socializer or ego-satisfier” to get this person to buy off on the technological solution.

I expect Ed means that the social functions need to be provided in-house by the sponsor/champion while the outside consultant focuses on the business/technology discussion. That’s certainly possible, but if you are the driver behind the project, you do need to ensure that someone is taking the role of social facilitator or risk seeing your project doomed.