How Does Flawless Consulting Apply To You and Your Organization?

When explaining Flawless Consulting to a friend outside of my regular consulting world, I like to highlight building authenticity and awareness in relationships. I want to highlight how Flawless Consulting and it’s structured framework lets work projects be approached differently and allows people to enter into projects more consciously. I appreciate these elements because they lead to a more effective project, with an opportunity for greater impact, by building the relationship along with technical expertise.

Yes, the Flawless Consulting® Workshop offers a consulting model for consultants to be better at what they do. But it is not only for consultants. It is for everyone. Why? Because everyone, regardless of their role, has the option of being more conscious of what work they are doing, why they are doing it, and how they are doing it.

Many times in an organizational setting, we are assigned to a project. We may be the leader or an individual contributor. The project kicks off, members of the team share introductions, they briefly clarify roles and outcomes and then they dive in. The work begins and continues without a pause. Sooner or later, some varying degree of issues or group dynamics inevitably rises to the surface. These issues span from the level of leader engagement to the project approach, project tactics, team roles, or external organizational influences. The list could go on. You have been there, right?

The Phases of Flawless Consulting
Flawless Consulting Phases

The Goal of Flawless Consulting

The purpose of the Flawless Consulting Workshop is to slow down. It asks you at the beginning of a project to define the type of relationship you want. This helps you better navigate the work and discover more about why the work is being requested. Organizations constantly deal with competing priorities and an endless list of projects that urgently need to get done.

The Flawless Consulting Model helps project leaders think through the original ask to ensure that it is the right ask and the right approach.

This is where authentic dialogue and strong relationships come in handy. It is also what the workshop helps you practice. In the end, your client (your boss, manager, or peer) is thankful because they now have more information they need to proceed. This saves organizations time and money, which is never arguable. It also builds trust, one conversation at a time. This ultimately contributes to the type of culture that enables employees to thrive.

Flawless Consulting is for Everyone

On the surface, yes, this training might look and feel like something strictly for consultants. In fact, it really is for everyone! After learning and practicing the concepts, you will leave refreshed and ready to go back to your current organizational challenge with new ideas and ways of being.

When I tell friends about this training, they always seem intrigued. In some sense, I think everyone can relate. They like the idea of forming deeper relationships and doing more meaningful work. I’m grateful to help build this capability inside of organizations. I also look forward to continuing to share these core concepts from Peter Block. If you’d like to know more about how this training could help your particular organization, please reach out to us!

Consulting Complexities: Flawless Consulting Concepts Here to Help

We enter our profession because consulting is the work we want to do. As we succeed, whether as internal or external consultants, the pressure to get ahead pushes our attention from how to deliver quality service to how to build a successful practice. The tension between the two is inevitable. It is a paradox that has no simple answer, but are there Flawless Consulting concepts that can help?

Consulting also carries with it the possibility that customers will project qualities on you that you do not possess. In a sense, the client looks for hope where little exists. Seeking a consultant has an element of seeking a super-someone, be it man or woman. So there is a willingness from the client to demand and expect more than we may be able to offer.

In the face of these complexities, and all those explored earlier, there are some steps, or at least ways of thinking, that will at a minimum raise our consciousness about our contribution to the cynicism and doubt that infect the consulting industry. At best, we may find a way of working where the longing that brought us into the work can be realized.

Here are some Flawless Consulting concepts that can help you.

Say No As Often As You Say Yes

Consultants should make their own decisions on which projects to accept. We should say no to projects as often as we say yes. There are many reasons to back away from business. Clients often want us to treat a symptom. They think training or restructuring will solve their problem, when it will only postpone resolution. Say no when the chemistry between you and the client is not good. Be careful when the client has expectations of you that you cannot fulfill. Say no to a five-dollar solution for a fifty-dollar problem.

Stay True to Your Worth

One of the most important Flawless Consulting concepts, or ways of thinking is this. Stop measuring the success of your internal staff consulting work by the size of your staff, the volume of work you can generate, or the approval rating of top management. If you are an external consultant, don’t judge your practice by the sales volume of your business, return on equity, or margins. Setting high growth targets for your business will force you and others to take marginal business. It will push new services into the marketplace before they are fully developed. Your ambition will also be sensed by the client, and although they might say yes today, they will feel used over time.

Start measuring your work by the optimism and self-sufficiency you leave behind.

Consulting is fundamentally an educational and capacity-building function. You need to be economically self-sufficient, true, but that is not the point. You are successful when the clients feel more accountable for their own system, more able to learn by themselves in the future, more confident and powerful in creating an organization they believe in. These are qualitative measures, but they are knowable if we pay attention.

Flawless Consulting Concepts is grow at your own pace. a man looks at two paths ahead
Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

Grow on Your Own Terms

Accept the fact that the work you have chosen will most likely and appropriately remain a boutique business. Professional practice is the point, not the size of the practice. For external consultants, decide how much money you need to live on and how many days you are willing to work, peg your rates to that equation, and avoid conversations with other consultants in which they will ask how busy and successful you are.

If there is more demand for your services than you can handle, give the business away. Build a network of people who do what you do and whom you respect, and send the business to them. Don’t take a finder’s fee, or talk about mergers and partnerships that are driven by economic opportunity. If this seems bizarre and counter-cultural to you, it means you are on the right track.

Telling It Like It Is

Many years ago, I was introduced to what is now one of my favorite books, Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute. I was intrigued by the title and mostly curious about the term self-deception. What is it—and do I have it?

In simplest terms, self-deception means that we do not see ourselves and the people around us as they really are. The authors of the book explain: “It blinds us to the true cause of problems, and once blind, all the ‘solutions’ we can think of will actually make matters worse.” As a Flawless consultant, it’s a truth I’ve seen played out all too often.

Critical to the success of our consulting relationships is the ability to “tell it like it is,” and that often means sharing with a client how they have contributed to the problem they’ve hired us to solve. Often, we are asking them to take responsibility for something they have been unwilling or unable to confront.

So, how do we as Flawless consultants challenge our clients to see themselves, the people around them, and the problem as it really is?

It’s called feedback—and through our experiences, we’ve learned there are specific criteria which must be followed if you want the feedback to be heard, accepted, actionable, and most of all . . . matter.

Flawless consultants use specific, descriptive, clear, and simple language. They are non-judgmental but deliver the feedback assertively. We actively encourage reactions to the feedback to surface doubts and reservations so that we can support and address any concerns the client may have with moving forward. We also identify the client’s contribution to the problem that is within their control, and inspire the will to act by showing the impact on the business, others, and the client themselves.

Often, the anxiety we feel in giving difficult feedback is our own, not the client’s. Saying it can be much harder than listening to it. However, our goal as Flawless consultants is always to get the client to act on the underlying issues. Doing so will require us at times to indeed “tell it like is” so that our clients can see a clear picture, free of self-deception, so that the problem can ultimately be solved.

Fast Training is like Fast Food

How often have I been asked, “We can’t take 3 days away from work for a workshop, so can you cut it to two days?”

There’s a lot of pressure to “cut the time AND cover all the material AND include practical exercises to build their skills”. If it’s a three-day workshop, people want it in two. If you reduce it to two days, they want it in one!

Here are my favorite reasons as to “WHY we can’t do a three-day workshop…”

        5. “Our people can’t take 3 days away from work for training; they’re too busy.”
4. “Three days costs too much. We’re trying to contain expenses”
3 “Other people only take 2 days.”
2. “We know there is slack time in any workshop. The first day is usually slow.”

And my # 1 favorite reason, “Why we can’t do a three-day workshop”, is…

        1. “Our people are intelligent, experienced, fast-paced, multi-taskers who get bored easily.”

Let’s face it.  We’re all addicted to speed… we’re all too busy!

While there is some truth to all the reasons listed above, we can’t condense the time and still do everything.  The question is, “Do we want to teach content (short lectures with some Q & A) or equip learners (practice the skills)?

If we shorten times, something gets sacrificed.  Let’s think about what we lose and what it costs.  I see three things that we sacrifice when we shorten workshops.

The first and most impactful is practice. Flawless Consulting workshops emphasize practice, individual and team, in a safe environment. Practice lets people know quickly how they’re doing.  You have someone to coach you and offer suggestions.  You get to try various approaches to see how they work.  Without practice you are less likely to use the skills you’ve learned.  And practice usually gets cut when we want to shorten a workshop.

Next, we limit relationships.  Flawless Consulting workshops have people working in pairs, trios, and small teams  We want people to work together, to build teams and networks yet we give them few opportunities to actually meet and talk. In a one-day workshop, we just begin to recognize people and then it’s already time to go.

And last is contemplation time.  Flawless Consulting workshops build in “time to think, ” individually and collectively. As we think, questions emerge and possibilities occur.  We begin to learn.  Without contemplation, we tend to stay in our old mode of thinking and very little changes.

So, what’s the cost of reducing the time? The training may end up being superficial, lacking depth with little change occurring.  Without practice, people usually lack the patience and confidence to try something new.  The result?  The experience is seen as a feel-good or entertaining time with limited value. The money and time spent are wasted.

 I’d love to hear your stories. Drop me a note. Let me know how it’s going.