The concept of a Critical Friend is not new to the sector or Hart Square.

Wikipedia calls it:

  • “A trusted person who asks provocative questions… A critical friend takes the time to fully understand the context of the work presented and the outcomes that the person or group is working toward.”

However, in our work with our clients, this term is often used thus:

  • “Our organisation needs a critical friend to support the change we are planning this year”
  • “We see you as our critical friend, our trusted advisor on projects”

When we join an organisation, we understand the responsibility given to us to perform this role. We respect the trust it takes to offer us this role. We appreciate the need to add value in this role.

But what exactly is a Critical Friend in a non-profit change project?

Below is a simple guide to how Hart Square provides value through healthy challenge in the projects we deliver. These are some of our Critical Friend services if you like:

Business cases

It can at times be difficult to convince people to commit to change, especially to a change budget. Our business case development defines and then challenges the technology status quo. We help amplify the need for investment, so it is heard above the many reasons not to change.

Requirements Gathering and Process Reviews

Whether identifying requirements for a new system or improvements to your processes, we ask the difficult questions in workshops with your teams.

These are not simple listing exercises. Our workshops involve questioning why things remain the way they do, so a tender may include what is truly needed from new systems, beyond what is desired.

Partner selection

We do not select partners for you. We simply don’t. Our role in selection is to put in place a proven, well-structured process for you to follow and be equitable in your decision-making. Encouraging balanced views of partner engagement and your own selection criteria so you make bold, secure and successful procurement choices.

Project Preparation Services

Often, the need here is to challenge the view that preparation can start later or lighter than proposed. It takes commitment to plan and prepare for change. Our team focuses on working with your internal leads to mobilise the organisation for change.

Implementation Services

System implementation is a mountain climb. Along that dizzying path, with your technology partner, we challenge any desire to take dangerous short cuts or ignore risks. We provide an ongoing side-by-side guide to get you up and back down the Go Live Mountain.

Post Implementation Services, Support Services

Projects still risk stopping or slowing down on Go Live day. In reality, change still needs governing and stabilising after systems have launched. Our team helps you challenge any impulse to stand still so you can truly drive continuous improvement.


The examples given above are naturally using our own services as a context of course, but the intention is wider; to show you the value of having a critical friend to guide and challenge you in any change programme.

Across all our services, we are always professional in the way we provide a healthy challenge to our clients. We are not your staff. We are not your governors. We will happily be your organisation’s Critical Friend if you need us. Get in touch to find out more.