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Do you know what to look for when you’re buying professional services?

Buy Only Those Services That will Reduce the Uncertainty Facing Your Organization. Identify a professional service that will contribute directly to the reduction of some of the uncertainties involved in managing your organization. Insist that a professional services firm offer you a realistic opportunity to achieve greater peace of mind in a particular area of your organization’s management where you feel uncertain.

Talk with Professionals who Understand Your Organization and Your Role. Insist that the representatives of professional services firms be able to address themselves directly to your organization’s substantive problem and your leadership accountabilities. Require that they demonstrate a sufficient grasp of the problem and your role to earn your confidence and to generate your interest in discussing the problem further with them.

Talk with True Professionals Who are Personally Qualified to Deliver the Service You Need. Assure yourself that the service you are buying will add genuine value by talking to the people who can do the required work and deliver the needed service. Insist on dealing directly with individuals of true professional competence—that is, persons whose interests and satisfactions come from playing a substantive role in helping clients like you to solve problems like the one your organization is facing.

Ask about Their Prior Experience Addressing Problems Similar to Yours. Elicit descriptions of the professional services firm’s recent and relevant past performance on similar assignments to assess their capabilities in recognizing the unique aspects of a given situation and dealing with its most difficult aspects. The acid test of professional competence is the degree to which a consulting professional can talk and write knowledgeably about the kinds of problematic situations that are of particular relevance to you and your organization.

Ask How They Would Address Your Organization’s Particular Problem. The best professional services firms stress flexibility and customization in their method of approach. When professionals tell you that the methods they use depend on the nature of the problem, describe the concrete problem your organization is facing and ask what methods they would use to address it. The thoughtfulness of their response will give you a realistic basis for assessing the quality of their services.

Choose Professionals Who Listen and Respond Thoughtfully. Outstanding professionals have the ability to listen deeply and respond insightfully—that is, to hear not only the words being spoken but also the thoughts and emotions that often lie behind those words. By listening intently the best consultants can help you to diagnose the root causes of your organization’s problem. By responding constructively and creatively they can demonstrate their ability to address and resolve your organization’s problem.

Why choose us?

We Have Broad and Deep Organization Consulting Experience. Initiated in 1981 as a woman-owned small business with offices in Salem, Massachusetts and clients throughout North America, Sterling & Selesnick has helped more than 200 public, private and non profit organizations address a wide-ranging assortment of problematic situations and successfully master an enormous variety of daunting challenges. This rich body of extensive prior experience enables us to recognize the common features and distinguish the unique aspects of virtually any problematic situation and determine what will be required to deal with its most difficult elements.

We Understand the Risks and Uncertainties of Organizational Leadership. Both of us have many years of real-world, hands-on leadership experience—initially working together to build and lead a lucrative profit center within a global organization consulting firm, and subsequently growing our own successful organization consulting practice. Consequently, our clients’ needs receive the continuing attention of two seasoned professionals who are also experienced leaders and managers, and the actions we propose are based more on practical realities than classroom theory.

We Understand the Risks and Uncertainties of Government Agency Leadership. We have provided organization consulting services for more than six dozen public agencies at all levels of government, with a particular concentration in the federal executive branch. Much of our practice has been with presidential appointees and senior executives of cabinet-rank federal agencies and related stakeholder organizations, many of which have been the largest and most respected entities worldwide in their field. A particularly sensitive portion of our practice has involved special assignments and high-level private briefings for senior public officials.

Hinda Sterling &  Herb Selesnick of Sterling & Selesnick, Inc.Our Practice is Conducted by True Professionals. Hinda Sterling and Herb Selesnick combine more than 70 years of experience facilitating hundreds of critical meetings, strategic conferences and sensitive discussions and personally mentoring, coaching or training over three thousand individuals at every organizational level in government, commercial and non profit enterprises. Herb holds Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in physics and management and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Hinda earned a Bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Massachusetts, Master’s degrees in educational counseling and in fine arts from Salem State College and Pratt Institute, and Master’s and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in human and organizational systems from Fielding Graduate University. Hinda and Herb have each received a Hammer Award from the National Performance Review Task Force headed by former Vice President Al Gore for their contributions to “building a government that works better and costs less.”

We Personally Deliver All the Services Our Firm Offers. We have deliberately remained a two-person consultancy in the belief that in delivering professional services size often detracts from excellence. The absence of branch offices and junior practitioners helps us to ensure our independence and objectivity because we remain answerable only to our clients and ourselves. Involving the same two highly experienced professionals intensively and interchangeably in all phases of any assignment we undertake enables us to maintain uniformly high standards of quality, responsiveness and integrity in every aspect of our work.

Customization and Flexibility are Central to Our Consulting Approach. We offer no packaged systems, preconceived solutions, preferred theories or proprietary methods of any kind that would impair our open-mindedness, compromise our objectivity or limit in any way our ability to tailor our services and customize our solutions to each client organization’s particular substantive needs and specific situational requirements.

Attentive Observation and Thoughtful Feedback are How We Express Our Values. We practice organization consulting because it gives us richly satisfying opportunities—by being attentive and reflective—to help clients achieve broader awareness and deeper perspectives so that they can apply their own knowledge and skills more effectively. When our observations and feedback help clients understand themselves and their organizations in different and deeper ways, they acquire valuable new insights. This enables them —either for themselves or for their organizations—to distinguish who they are from whom they need to become and then to begin moving purposefully and confidently from where they are to where they want ultimately to be.

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