It would be nice to hear these four simple words more often than we do.
Working agency side, there is a perception, often correct, that consultants aren't prepared to mutter those words.
Ted Grigg posted a great blog about consultant credibility last week broaching this very topic.
Ted notes that "..competence is reflected by the easy manner in which such consultants readily admit that they do not have the answers to everything related to their field of expertise.."
Well said Ted.
People, in charities and even for-profits, hire agencies and consultants because they want access to an array of learning's and testing, because they want to have their ear close to the ground to ensure they are up to speed with latest sector developments and finally (although many won't admit this) because they want their lives made easier.
That's not to say that life is always easier working with a consultant, but that's the aim...
In addition to Ted's blog I was reminded of how important it is to throw your arms up sometimes and say "I really don't know, please help" when I was back in Australia recently. I was doing a workshop with the brilliant team at the Children's Medical Research Institute in Sydney.
One of the guys who had been part of the organization for 30 years at one point during the session put his hand up and said to his peers "Look, I've been here 30 years. That doesn't mean I know everything. If you think something is wrong or we could do it better, feel free to challenge me".
The point was recognizing that longevity in a role doesn't mean you're always right. Nor should you be expected to be.
Ask questions, challenge and do what's best. Not what is easiest.
If someone who has been in a fundraising team for 30 years is prepared to admit they don't have all the answers then that's good enough for me.
Consultants know far from everything, and the best ones readily acknowledge this.