Theory E²: Working with Entrepreneurs in Closely-Held Enterprises — II. The Consulting Challenge
Finally, the organizational psychologist is faced with the challenge of convincing his client that effective consulting services are often long term rather than being focused on a specific problem. It is hard to convince entrepreneurs that they need to think in terms of (and provide funding for) long-term consultation. Short-term consulting is rarely successful in closely held enterprises, for it is often hard for a psychologist to build trust in a closely held enterprise; yet, once the trust is established, the psychological engagement can be very productive—especially when it is long term.
We conclude by making use of a metaphor that we find helpful when consulting with the entrepreneurial leaders of closely held enterprises. This is the metaphor of “organizational anchors.” We often propose to our clients that they identify the anchors in their organization. Some organizational anchors resemble a bottom anchor. This is the traditional type of anchor that most of us think of when imagining someone anchoring a ship. The bottom anchor is very heavy and it sticks into the sand or mud at the bottom of the sea. A bottom anchor—often found in the formal rules, regulations, mission statement, policies and procedures of an organization–typically remains firmly in place regardless of the winds of change. We have found that successful entrepreneurs are rarely held in check by bottom anchors.