Consulting firms are (in)famous for developing new theories of management, analytic approaches to performance or taxonomies for describing the newest or best consulting strategies. Some are truly insightful, others are old wine in new bottles.
Many are developed with a specific industry in mind, adaptations of traditional approaches, constructs and terminology, with or without new insights or empirical justification.
Books, journal articles, webinars and a full-scale marketing campaign soon follow to establish this new idea as “revolutionary” or “groundbreaking.” A foundation of common sense and validation of approaches against actual situations are sometimes, but not always, included.
Consultants often adopt these approaches and taxonomies as an act of faith and, without rigorous comparative thought or testing, refuting the usefulness of traditional, or even even newer, ideas. IT strategist and cofounder of the agile software development movement Dr. Alistair Cockburn, tiring of people who dismissed ideas because they didn’t conform to their own cherished school of thought, created the Oath of Non-Allegiance, that applies especially to management consulting:
“I promise not to exclude from consideration any idea based on its source, but to consider ideas across schools and heritages in order to find the ones that best suit the current situation.”
As Dr. Cockburn describes it: “This means the end of statements like “That’s no good – it’s not agile, object-oriented, pure, etc…”, but rather a discussion about whether an idea (agile, plan-driven, impure, whatever) works well in the conditions of the moment.”
ROM consultants work across industries and disciplines, experiencing and adapting concepts and approaches that are theoretically solid, tested in real situations, and possibly more applicable than existing approaches, with a preference for the simpler approach. Long experience has taught us that, while a sophisticated approach may be elegant and optimal in theory, it is at a minimum hard to implement and, at worst, presents a risk to company operations.
We are curious and willing to use concepts and techniques regardless of source, as long as they are useful to our work and productively address the client’s challenges. We are fully committed to the philosophy and practice of Non-Allegiance.