Module 5 Overview

Provides the learning outcomes on which the readings and assignments for this module are based.

  • Identify and evaluate consulting theories and models.
  • Identify, analyze, and apply the various phases of the consulting cycle.
  • Examine the characteristics of successful consultants, and develop an action plan for their own professional development regarding those skills and abilities.
  • Discuss and synthesize trends within the arena of organizational consulting.
  • Examine and analyze organizational assessment strategies and models.
  • Assess the importance of organizational functional areas and identify the key metrics and data to assess these functions.

'Some consultants believe that they have the answer to even the most complex problems…The presence of the consultant is often a testimony to the lack of confidence clients have in themselves and their people.'                     Cliff Bolster                     Source: Block, P. (2001). Flawless consulting field book and companion: A guide to understanding your expertise. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, p255.

This module focuses on feedback and resistance to that feedback. The purpose of feedback is to help the client move from confusion to actions that correct the problems. This process is both supportive and confrontational. Consequently, once data has been collected and analyzed, feedback must be provided to the client during a meeting. As a result, the client should accept recommendations and move into implementation.

People have a deep-seated and institutionalized habit of focusing on needs and deficiencies as a means of improvement, as if they or their organizations were broken and needed to be fixed. Although this may be true on occasion, it is also true that this does not accurately reflect the human condition. Very often, the potential for effective change and for building commitment to a mission or vision is related to gifts and the capacity for novel work. Kouzes and Posner, researchers and authors of The Leadership Challenge, say that the “climb to the top is arduous and long. People become exhausted, frustrated, and disenchanted. They are often tempted to give up. Leaders encourage the hearts of their constituents to carry on.”

The most difficult part of consulting can be coping successfully with client resistance. Resistance is predictable and natural and should be an anticipated part of the discovery process. The discovery process provides many opportunities for revealing and successfully dealing with resistance. This module is designed to guide you through the process of discovery, engagement, and dialogue for an improved probability of a successful intervention.

At its core, change is dependent on the willingness to act with courage, to be vulnerable, and to choose optimism. These are all emotional concerns, and they are difficult to deal with in a world that idolizes rationality and technology. Successful change efforts are dependent on guiding emotion to support the strategic initiatives that result from the consulting intervention. For change to occur, one must risk the certainty and security of what one is comfortable and familiar with and embrace the quagmire of individual values, beliefs, and attitudes that drive change behaviors.

As a consultant, you are a leader. Your role is to influence those you serve in order to accomplish the shared goals you have jointly established. In this capacity, it is important to recognize contributions to the past, the present, and the future. It is part of an exceptional consultant’s and leader’s job to celebrate the client’s values and victories as part of the feedback process.

Recognition and celebration are not about fun and games or a fake sense of camaraderie. They are a sincere, practical, and spiritual endeavor to recognize and value the self-worth and contribution that people and units have made to the client’s success. This effort is intended to be authentic in helping the players build trust and hope in the process and people who will make the journey toward change together. In reality, consultants are holders of the client’s collective possibilities. Withholding recognition and celebration weakens the human spirit, erodes the capacity for change, and serves to dull a person’s passion and commitment to a future vision that represents substantial personal cost and its associated pain.

A consultant’s job is to inspire hope such that when faced with the hard facts of what is currently true, the client will see it for what it is—simply a current state that can be changed through the collective efforts of the talented people he or she employs. For the client, the adventure to a preferred future states is about to begin!