The Third Turn

Dr. Mark L. Vincent's Blog

Process Consulting: Getting out of the way

Posted by Mark L. Vincent on Dec 16, 2013 6:00:00 AM

One of our Senior Consultants recently wrote me an e-mail in the middle of an interminable conference call in which he was a volunteer participant as a board member for a church-related institution. The speaker on the call was also an organizational development consultant, making use of the platform and a somewhat captive audience to laud their personal accomplishments. They were using the circular argument, 'we've done a lot so we know a lot."

You might call it professional jealousy that my colleague would e-mail me to tell of his frustration, but I'd like to think it is our finely-tuned ear to the difference between PRODUCT and PROCESS. An effective process consultant shines the light on the client, the audience, the prospect, even their colleague, without seeking it for themself. It isn't that they avoid a spotlight. It is they they don't seek it. When it does shine on them they don't seek to stay in it.

A good process consultant hears the following tape recording in their head over and over "Get out of the way!" 

Here are 10 ways experts get in the way of the process. You'll recognize the first one from what I've written so far:

  1. Talking about themselves, their credentials, their experiences, their successes (always their successes).
  2. Telling what they know, telling stories, telling what should be done or doing show and tell instead of asking questions.
  3. Inserting a favorite technique, or worse, repeating what was done elsewhere as a means to be more efficient. As a result their efficiency starts to matter more than the client's result!
  4. Using a consulting role to troll for a new job.
  5. Using a current consulting project to try to upsell the client on additional services.
  6. Straying out of one's expertise because they are not willing to refer work to a colleague or a competitor.
  7. Tracking total sales rather than tracking client objectives that are reached.
  8. Getting anxious about losing a prospect and thereby focusing on the sale rather than building a long-term relationship. Insincerity is particularly galling in the consulting profession.
  9. Focusing too much on adding value to the point that the main objectives are under-addressed, diluted or even ignored.
  10. Making excuses.
It simply is a good habit for me and others in this profession to point to the client and the client's accomplishments. That way no-one has to choke on our braggadocio.

-mark l vincent


holy_days, whorled viewz, emell vee, design group international

Topics: organizational development consulting, process consultants finding work, process vs. product, organizational development muse, Design Group International


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