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A “Flawless” Conversation with your Boss This is the most important ongoing conversation that you have in your organization. It sets the guidelines for how you and your boss will work together. It is the beginning of a partnership with your boss and a step toward empowerment for you. Most of us believe that we are already having such conversations. I know I did. Yet when I dig deeper with people, I find that most conversations were as a benevolent parent (boss) to a compliant child (employee), not as partners. Read Post
Collaborative Consulting: Three Degrees of Difficulty Consulting—especially collaborative consulting—requires artful presence and, consequently, is inherently difficult. It requires us to manage at three levels simultaneously: the consulting process, our relationship with the client, and ourselves. In my view, Peter Block’s description of a practitioner-based process represents one of the great contributions of Flawless Consulting. Collaborative consulting requires paying attention to the process while simultaneously being willing to improvise within it. This represents the first degree of difficulty. W. Edwards Deming, in his quality control work (and I think he is not fully appreciated as an OD practitioner), discusses “natural” vs “special” variation. Collaborative consulting has a lot of natural variation resulting from organizational complexity and the uncertainty of human behavior. The problem with behavioral “science” is that the standard deviations are significant. Little we do is 100% predictable, yet there is an underlying process we as consultants are responsible for knowing and following. Can I use the contracting conversation to open the doors to discovery and the meeting for decision? Can I renegotiate my wants when the scope and scale of the work changes? Can I confront the client with how his behavior affects the situation we are discussing? Can I identify the real client? Read Post
Empowered? Empowerment is a confusing word. It’s also known as being authentic, taking ownership, choosing accountability, partnership, or being collaborative. It is the source of many questions like: “What is it all about? How do I become empowered? How do I empower my employees? How do I hold them accountable?” Empowerment is about a mindset, an approach to how we work with and relate to others. It is a mindset that I choose—a mindset that believes, “I am the result of choices I make and I am accountable for the outcomes.” Read Post
Building Trusted Business Partnerships During Organizational Upheaval with Jeff Evans Jeff Evans, one of Designed Learning’s Vice Presidents and Flawless Consultants, discusses the process of building trusted business partnerships during organization upheaval. Read Post
Influencing Without Direct Control (I Want Power. I Choose Influence.)
Influencing Without Direct Control (I Want Power. I Choose Influence.) How powerful am I? What is power? Are you empowered? Power over? Power by? Power with? If only I had more power! Do I really want more power, or do I want more influence? Is there a difference? As I think about all of the relationships of my life, power seems to have a major role. As a child, my parents had power over me. As a student, teachers and administrators had power over me. As a new employee, I gave my boss and my senior colleagues power over me. As a poor citizen in my city, I gave power to government and institutions. We have learned that the world works on a class system which relies on the belief that we must have people who have power and people who are subservient to power. In the subservient role, I seek safety and control, yet I give up freedom and choice. Read Post
Another Look at Resistance In any conversation with clients, there are concerns that are rarely discussed. These doubts vary in intensity with their perceived risk and loss of control; they are personal to the individual and the situation—they are not the same for everyone. Read Post
Tips And Traps For Internal Consultants Are you in a position to influence others, but have no authority to make changes or implement programs? If so, then you meet the definition of a “consultant” as found in Peter Block's book, Flawless Consulting. As internal consultants, we want to help solve our clients' problems. We work to have our expertise used and our recommendations implemented. We strive to build and maintain partnerships with our clients. Read Post
A Short Version of My Misunderstanding of Gestalt In October 2019, Designed Learning marked the 40th anniversary of its founding with a webinar where Peter shared some thoughts on the origins of the company. It all began with a workshop, he said, that was grounded in a simple belief: relationships are decisive. What hasn't changed over the years is this basic belief that relationships are decisive, not convenient, not rewarded, not comforting. And so it turns out that your ability to engage in honest, authentic relationships has everything to do with business performance. In this blog post, Peter reflects farther back, into the origins of that simple belief that gave Designed Learning its footing. Read Post
What’s Thanksgiving Without Pizza? Thanksgiving: a time for family, friends, football, and food… turkey, cranberries, pumpkin pie, and of course pizza. What’s the matter? Don’t you have pizza on your Thanksgiving table? Our Thanksgiving pizza tradition started years ago when I invited Bob, Diane, and their family to our house for Thanksgiving. They had recently moved to Connecticut and would be alone for the holiday. When I asked Bob’s children what they wanted for thanksgiving dinner his teenaged son yelled, “Pizza”! This drew a rebuke from Bob. He apologized to me and informed his son that pizza was not a traditional food for Thanksgiving. Read Post
Consulting Complexities: Final Thoughts on What to Do The promise of consulting is a commitment to care and to serve. We promise to act in the interest of another, the client. This series of blog posts explored some of the complexities consultants face that interfere with our capacity to serve, even in the face of our best intentions. With this post, we wind the series up with a few more thoughts on what to do. Read Post