Don’s Diary

Don’t think for a moment that I do not like consultants and advisors – I have been one myself, indeed I used to have a consulting company mainly in transport and privatisation!

They used to say that most executives “between jobs” called themselves “Consultants”. Most of us have heard all the gags about them too: “Lend me you watch and I will tell you the time”, and so on. However, there is often a legitimate place for them in the management process. It was interesting to hear at the last Quarterly Communications that property advisors had been appointed to give advice on the East Melbourne properties. That will hearten some people but it is not necessarily all good news.

In my consultancy experience three situations are likely to be encountered in the outset. First, management will have made its mind up on what should happen and the outcome and they want and to give that decision a veil of credibility by having an “independent” consultant or advisor present this as his solution. This is the easiest way for the consultant to get paid too and more work! Second, management opinion will be divided and the consultant will be expected to resolve these differences and present the best solution – you know, the “horse and the camel” type solution but I suppose they both have four legs. If the consultant is smart he will identify the power group and that will make it easier to get paid and more work. And third, the management will have little or no idea of what they want and the consultant will be expected to actually to do the management’s job for it. The common denominator of these situations is that the task has probably not been properly specified. Management will have abrogated its legitimate responsibility.

I would expect that a consultant or advisor to an organisation will normally be given in his briefing papers the Strategic Plan as this should contain the direction and objectives of the organisation. This should enable him to see where his assignment fits into and will contribute to the achievement of the objective. Now we know some strategic plans are just a collation, a "grab-bag” of the “wish-lists” of the committees of the organision and lack the cohesion to make them credible and certainly of no real use to a consultant.

If Freemasonry in Victoria is the subject, will the consultant or advisor be told that the present concept of our operations will be maintained? If so there will be some who will say that this had resulted in its decline. Will the consultant or advisor be briefed just to report on the East Melbourne properties? If so some will argue that this brief is too narrow as whatever happens or does not happen there will have impact on Freemasonry as a whole, particularly in respect to Melbourne metropolitan facilities. Will the consultant or advisor be made aware of the policies applying to provincial and country lodges and facilities and told of the importance that we as place in our doctrine on equality and fairness?

It seems to me that the report of any consultant or advisor will be hard for the Fraternity to accept unless the very premises and processes are considered to be appropriate, including the selection of the advisor by some transparent process such as through a request for Expressions of Interest and a GL expert panel – I have not seen any such advertisement!.

Should a business advisor rather than a property advisor have been appointed?

Fraternal best wishes to all