Maestro-level letter is a weekly note I send to clients and colleagues. Every now and then one of these letters seems to need a larger audience. The additions of Senior Consultants Lukie Wells, Noele Stith, Eric Doss, Rose Shetler, and Steve Slagel, and our recent naming of Deanna Rolffs as a Senior Design Partner prompted these thoughts. If you would like to discuss a deeper connection to Maestro-level leaders, please reach out here.
"You are all white!"
- a frequent observation
Deep inhales and blowing out the stress sure helps when someone tells me I am something I work hard not to be.
We launched Design Group International with a purpose: helping leaders and organizations transform for a vibrant future. The vision growing out of this purpose was and is to develop a resilient platform upon which people with deep expertise and a commitment to a process consulting approach can have entire careers doing meaningful work with organizations seeking to make a difference. Along the way, we've grown through and beyond the objections people throw our way.
Those objections sting. They sting because our vision is for those experts we want to attract and the clients we'd like to serve, yet they point to what they currently see as a means to keep distance and say no. I want them to see our vision: their vision made real because they work with us. I point to what can be. They point to what is. We show the promise. They point to the current picture. Ouch!
We keep growing beyond the current round of stinging objections and into the next because out of our patient articulation, we find people who can see our vision for their vision too. Those who eventually join us as consultants or clients change the picture. We all get transformed!
Objection: You are just a SOHO!
Response: Yes, we are getting started and coming to it with deep experience. We already draw on a network of people with your needed expertise. This makes us nimble and able to scale to any size of a project tied to your objectives.
FINALLY! Additional experts decided this was the platform for them. Goodbye, just my face on the website!
Objection: You are a business competing with nonprofits!
Response: We decided against nonprofit status so as not to compete for funding with our nonprofit clients. We want to focus on client objectives alone.
FINALLY! Other consulting groups emerged and saw the simplicity of a non-subsidized approach when serving nonprofits that need organizational development help. Goodbye, first-mover status!
Objection: You are too Christian!
Response: Many of our consultants have a vibrant faith. So do many of our clients. This is not an expectation. The expectation we hold is that our consultants and clients care about the world being better and that future generations can thrive.
FINALLY! Our mix of clients and consultants is expansive and deep, a true and rich mosaic. Goodbye customer concentration!
Objection: You are a family business!
Response: Some of my family members worked in this business over the years. It was fun but never the goal. The goal is multiple Partners, all of whom hold an ownership stake. We will turn this Community of Practice over to successors who will take this platform places we never could.
FINALLY! Others invested! I no longer own the majority of the company. Goodbye, last of the Founder's Dilemmas!
Objection: You are an old boys club!
Response: We've had a woman owner since our founding, and we keep inviting women to become small business owners with us, open to hearing what we need to adjust to make our platform appealing.
FINALLY! more women brought their expertise to the platform, now in ever-increasing numbers, partly because they see other women on the platform. Goodby, glass ceiling!
Objection: You are all white!
Response: Our client mix is richly diverse. Our consultants are currently primarily white, many of whom live in ethnically-mixed families. We keep inviting people with all melanin levels to become small business owners with us, open to hearing what we need to adjust to make our platform appealing.
EVENTUALLY! Process Consulting in general and Design Group International in specific is becoming less monochromatic. Hello, kaleidoscope!
The next objection: Why are you still around?
The response I plan to offer: I no longer run Design Group International or the Society for Process Consulting. The time will also come when I no longer chair the business partnership that governs these organizations.For the foreseeable future I will spend significant time with executive leaders in their Third Turn, expanding the field of Process Consulting, and developing the consulting practices of others.
SOON! The fourth and fifth generations of consultants we've developed will own and run Design Group International. Hello, enduring enterprise!
"Love wisdom like a sister; make insight a beloved member of your family." - Proverbs 7:4
This brief note comes each Sunday morning to: (1) Maestro-level leader cohort participants, (2) Executive Advising clients, (3) and colleagues. You can opt out at any time. You are welcome to share with others. Your brief, thoughtful contributions are welcome. © Design Group International. All rights reserved.
Tags:process consulting, Process Consultation, leadership succession, Mark L. Vincent, Design Group International, society for process consulting, leadership transition, succession planning, Organizational development, Maestro-level Leaders, The Third Turn, The Third Turn Podcast, Eric Doss, Steve Slagel, Rose Shetler, Kristin Evenson, stewardship of a successor, soft power, Deanna Rolffs, Noele Stith, Lukie Wells, Senior Design Partner
November 25, 2021