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The Hippocratic Oath…

… and its relevance to management consulting.

The Hippocratic Oath is an oath traditionally taken by physicians pertaining to the ethical practice of medicine. It is widely believed that the oath was written by Hippocrates, the father of medicine, in the 4th century BC.Two lines that can be equally pertinent for management consultants are: I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art.If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.

In other words, know what you don’t know or don’t do very well and make sure that you have a list of specialists in these fields that you can either refer a client to or to whom you can sub-contract part of a mandate. For example, although I am a chartered accountant I always have a local accountant prepare Income Statements and Balance Sheets when I am putting together a feasibility study or business plan. In this way I play to my strengths and I do not start doing things that I am not qualified to do.

This does not detract from your reputation – on the contrary it enhances it as clients know that they can trust your judgement and that you have professional integrity.

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