Relationships are the heart of and soul of my business. My clients are, for the most part, ongoing and repeat clients. The only way to create and maintain the relationships necessary for this type of business is through a clearly defined set of core values - not just stated values but enacted values.
My Core Values
Honesty and Integrity. Much of my business involves giving clients information, conclusions, and recommendations. For my services to be of any value, my clients must have faith in what I tell them. I build this into every effort that I undertake. To be honest, providing accurate and truthful information is always pleasant when the news is good news. What tests resolve is my ability to deliver bad or unwelcome news to clients. Admitting that I made a mistake or that I "got it wrong" - these are difficult and trying disclosures to make but my ability and resolve to do this is built into everything I do.
Respect. The concept of respect gets a lot of "air time" these days. True respect, however, goes beyond merely behaving respectfully and treating others with respect. Underlying these respectful behaviors must be true respect, true consideration of the inherent value in all humans. In all of my efforts from evaluation to systems analysis, I begin with the idea of respect - respect for consumers, providers, and stakeholders alike.
Value of Process. Getting to results is important for any organization. Just as important, though, is the process used to get to those results. This involves decisions relative to the acquisition of information, the degree and nature of participation of stakeholders, etc. Indeed, the willingness of employees, stakeholders, and consumers to embrace ideas, solutions to problems, and change will often turn on the extent to which there has been a process that they consider relevant. Solid attention to process also has the favorable side-effect of bringing to light previously unknown issues, innovative solutions, and even fostering new relationships.
Technical Competence. In short, I believe that I should pursue only those projects where I have technical competence although for some projects, I may elect to bring partners along that have the competencies that I do not possess.
Value of Evidence. Over the years, working both with organizations and individuals (such as students), I have struggled to reconcile evidence with opinions. The author of an ethics text that I used years ago framed the introduction of his book with the idea that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and that everyone is certainly entitled express these opinions. This does not, however, mean that all opinions are created equal. I have found it useful to differentiate between opinions supported by evidence and logical argument and those opinions that are merely opinions because people believe them. When making decisions about the future of a program or an organization, it is important to test our opinions and assumptions with evidence. it is equally important to select and present that evidence ethically, even if it means that we must admit that our initial opinions and assumptions were wrong.
Belief in Problem Solving. While some projects from time to time will consist only of some mechanical analysis or presentation, the nature of consulting is inherently problem solving. Often we can collectively identify potential problems in the planning process. What pushes us to improve and become better at what we do, though, I find is often tied inextricably to our ability to identify and address previously unforeseen problems "on the fly." In simple terms, one of the things that makes me get up in the morning and put on my work shoes is the belief that I will experience these unforeseen problems; I will work with others to find solutions; and that I will grow from the process. As an aside, I also firmly believe that diverse individuals working together for common purpose will produce superior solutions compared to a single isolated decision maker.