Gary Tetz

We live in a world where folks love to share what’s wrong and how horrible everything is, but often tend to be a little short on the energy and commitment required to achieve practical, positive solutions.

From my experience, that’s the opposite of what a long-term care consultant does. Any I’ve known have little patience for pointless gloom and doom. They’re eager to climb into the trenches and leverage their expertise to actually change things and attain measurable results, from processes to culture.

That’s why, if you’re a consultant, I’m concerned about your future well-being, and how you’ll evolve to survive against this increasingly negative, action-averse societal paradigm. On the Galapagos Islands, Darwin’s finches simply learned to grow better beaks. As an endangered species — the outcomes-oriented consulting expert — will you be that clever and adaptive?

After nights of sleepless worry on your behalf, I’ve developed a tweak to the old consulting model that will transform the way you do business and make your skills newly marketable in this toxic environment. Here’s my recommendation: Switch from being a consultant to an insultant.

As an insultant, you’ll have it easy — you simply identify a problem real or imagined, shout about it in the most inflammatory way possible, and then move on to the next one. You won’t need a plan of correction, because you won’t care about actually solving anything. Just find an eye-popping story to tell, and somebody else to blame. Once you’ve raised the desired ruckus, sneak away grinning and wiping your hands as the melee continues.

The application of this model to long-term care is simple and obvious. Facility leadership and clinical staff would gather around the conference room table, coffee in hand, ready to listen and learn. But as an experienced insultant, you’ll work fast and stiletto sharp. “I’ve reviewed the numbers, and have determined that you people aren’t very good at this, maybe the worst ever,” you’ll say. “$5,000 please.”

“But what shall we do about it?” the director of nursing services might ask.

“Good question,” you respond. “Wish I could help, but I’m an insultant, not a miracle worker.”

Research and preparation would be minimal, as an experienced insultant can generate strong opinions from minimal data, or none whatsoever. Presentations would be short, a necessity for this attention-ravaged culture, so you’ll be able to cycle through clients and build your referral base faster than was ever possible back when you had to produce actual results.

Don’t get me wrong. Consulting is a noble profession, filled with incredible people driven to not only identify and call out challenges, but to use their knowledge to actually improve things in the world and this profession. But if you’re fatigued by the energy and effort required to be positive and make a real difference as a consultant, perhaps that’s the universe calling you to be an insultant instead.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program. He’s been amusing, inspiring, informing and sometimes befuddling long-term care readers worldwide since the end of a previous century. He is a multimedia consultant for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.