Chapter 7Be Careful Who You Ask: Perils of Wisdom

Andrea Markowitz

Literature, religion, and mythology are filled with advisors in the form of witches, guides, prophets, and angels. In this article Andrea refers to these and links them to modern forms of consultation. There is, however, a significant difference between traditional wisdom and professional advice. Traditional wisdom is a voice from the spirit world. It is the voice from a higher self, from places of mystery. Professional advice, offered as wisdom, too often comes from places of certainty.

These eternal messages are meant to teach all humankind. We cross over a line when we endow expert professionals with this kind of power. We would do well to give less power to the professional, and perhaps to reflect more deeply upon that advice that has become timeless and was offered with the intent of love rather than as a product of economic exchange.

A consultant met with a group of clients who assembled to discuss problems that arose from a merger that brought together two very different organizational cultures. During the discussion, the group members frequently referred to the chaos and frustration that resulted from continuous clashes about how to manage people and how to accomplish the work. Toward the end of the discussion, a particularly distressed client implored the consultant, “What are you going to do to change things around here?”

Change, aka transformation, reorganization, growth. No matter what consultants ...

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