Almost every company or organization needs an independent Dr. No


One of my pipe dreams in recent years is to hire myself out as an independent consultant under the name of Dr. No.

You see, the problem in most organizations of appreciable size is that the internal office politics militate against devil’s advocacy. Most insiders don’t have the guts to say certain ideas are bad. Bosses are often surrounded by “yes” men (or women) who dare not utter a discouraging word about whatever proposal is on the table.

There would be several distinct advantages in recruiting a Dr. No like me. For example, I’m only going to deal with the situation at hand, after which I will move on. And regardless of whether my advice is followed, I’ll get paid.

Moreover, my approach to the situation (for example, advertising campaigns or public relations) will be as a generalist, not as an insider who can’t see the forest for the trees. And I’ll make it clear that staffers and executives can talk freely with me without fear of my ratting them out. That way, people who wouldn’t dare openly second-guess the boss or some other superior can confidentially express their misgivings about the idea or proposal at issue.

Another good point is that in most cases I wouldn’t need to spend a lot of money on research, as most consultants do. My resources would mostly be those between my ears — or those I can readily access via the Internet, at the library or in the records and archives of the outfit that hired me.

And the best part of this deal is that the boss can accept or reject my advice without telling anyone else what it is. He or she can simply say that after weighing all the pertinent factors, he’s decided that a certain course of action will be pursued. There would be no need to disclose how Dr. No felt about the matter.

Pretty clever idea, eh?

UPDATE: Just to be clear about this, Dr. No sometimes might say yes.


1 Comment

  1. expdoc

    An outstanding idea Mr. Cunningham!

    Our health care system has adopted part of this strategy in the sense that every one of the board members (except me, and I am an independent contractor) comes from outside of the industry and outside of our organization. In addition we like to put together “steering committees” of our patients to help guide the organization, whether it be on form or function.

    On a related note, our organization is adopting the “just culture” model for all of our quality and HR interactions with a goal towards creating a less punitive, more collaborative culture of safety. You can read more below.


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