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Vu Le posted this week about a well-observed phenomenon he termed “Outsider Efficiency Bias.” He defined this as basically having an outsider like a consultant come in and be lauded for making the same observations and recommendations that internal constituencies have.
Because this is a common experience, I figured someone would have already coined a term for it, but I couldn’t find one. Though logical fallacies like appeal to authority, appeal to accomplishment and appeal to novelty all intersect.
He points out this manifests in the hiring and contracting decisions organizations make and beyond just bringing consultants in for a week or two.
•Board members insisting on hiring an external candidate to be the ED instead of promoting a qualified person within the organization
•EDs/CEOs doing the same thing, hiring a staff from outside, often neglecting internal candidates
•Foundations hiring people from academia or the corporate world, who have no experience in nonprofit, to be the CEO
•Organizations hiring consultants from outside the geographic area instead of contracting with local consultants who live and work there
•Organizations hiring local consultants instead of just listening to their staff
•Conferences booking national and international speakers instead of working with local speakers
Le said he experienced this situation with his own board when they suggested bringing in an outsider to advise them about how to write blogs and articles better. If you aren’t aware, Vu Le is in fairly high demand as a speaker and panelist based on the content of his blog posts and use of social media to advocate for equity.
He acknowledges that an outsider perspective is important to the growth of organizations and is not discounting the need, but he lists many ways in which a bias toward outsiders can undermine the short and long term health of an organization.
I would have to copy and paste a significant portion of his post to include everything so I encourage people to read the original and think about how the bias exists in your organizational culture.
Since the Bible talks about a prophet being honored everywhere except in his own town and among his friends and family, this behavior is pretty deep seated but can be avoided with the investment of some thought and attention.