On Marketing Maestro, my friend Josef Katz discussed managers who can't believe anyone from outside their organization could make a meaningful contribution.
Josef commented on the issue of objectivity. That's certainly important, along with the need to bring a range of interesting perspectives to the problem-solving table. From my work with the innovation consultants of Synectics, I learned that diverse problem-solving teams are far more likely to successfully innovate than people with similar backgrounds, job responsibilities, and so on.
Three things I've noticed about marketers who insist on doing everything in-house: a) They tend to encounter all of the problems associated with monopolies, including lack of innovation due to lack of competition; b) They generally don't do consistently great work, and; c) It often seems to be more an ego thing than a money thing. Economic justification for getting help from the outside is usually easy.
What have you noticed about managers who always reject outside help?
No doubt about it -- the piss-poor economy is wreaking havoc on lots of businesses. But in some organizations, the biggest contributor to disappointing performance is found right in the corner office.
A percentage of marketing groups are run by dictatorial know-it-alls who clearly don't know it all. Year after year, they fail to test new techniques against tired approaches that should have been replaced ages ago. Try to introduce something fresh and they claim they've tried everything. (They haven't.) Ask to get a discussion going about changing things for the better and it never happens.
Yep, your father's command-and-control paradigm is alive and well. In some businesses, autocrats rule with a fear-based style that attracts and retains yes-men and yes-women but expels dissenters with the potential to transform outcomes. In these cases, the biggest obstacles to recovery are internal, rather than external.
The solution? Unfortunately, in the majority of these situations, the old dogs aren't about to learn new tricks, and the best move is to move on to a non-dysfunctional organization.