Being Present is Everything

I was very fortunate to witness the solar eclipse in totality this week. Before this amazing celestial event, I read extensively about what would happen. I listened to presentations from scientists, naturalists, and other eclipse aficionados. I felt as if I was prepared and understood what would happen. I looked up at the sky, protective glasses in place, with my adult son and 35,000 of my closest fans at the ballpark. To say that I wasn’t prepared is an understatement. I was moved emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Being there was everything. The sense of awe, community, and pure wonder was astonishing. It felt like the world stopped for those three minutes, and it was glorious. I felt the coolness on my skin; my eyes saw nighttime in the middle of the day, and I basked in the silent awe of those around me being present.

I relate this to the work we do at Designed Learning. In our Flawless Consulting experiences, being present with a client, partner, colleague, or friend is essential to being effective. With our Leader as Convener experiences, we convene with others to be fully present in larger groups. We utilize small group conversations to connect and be present with each other. These experiences were created from Peter Block’s books. The content of his writings continues to inspire me and help me to be more authentic, alive, and curious. However, if I just read the books, I am missing out. Being present in a room (Zoom or in-person) with other caring and curious people is everything. We learn from listening to others interpret, apply, and question the material and each other. 

Our world is so full of distractions that keep us from fully being present. We rush through meals, rely on texting, and look for “what’s next?” It’s hard to slow down and appreciate the moment and appreciate the people we are with. A fundamental premise of Peter’s work is “The relationship is everything.” Knowing and experiencing it are two different things. The quality of our relationships is highly dependent on our ability to be present and in the moment. Let’s hit the pause button more often. Postpone our desires to take immediate action. Better yet, let’s appreciate that pausing, listening, and thinking are all actions. Let’s focus on what’s now, not what’s next. Be present. It will change your life and the lives of those around you.

Article by Jeff Evans – April 2024

Flawless Consulting and Saying No

by Beverly Crowell

What do we say about saying no in Flawless Consulting?

In a recent conversation, a client said, “My company values relationships. I worry saying no might hurt the relationships I am trying to build.” Hearing that, I asked, “So, what kind of relationships does your company value? Only those where you agree?” A relationship is a way two or more people are connected. It is also the way they behave toward each other. From our client’s perspective, “saying no” is no way to behave. Peter Block, author of Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used, says this about the problem of saying no.

Internal consultants especially feel they are taking tremendous risks if they tell line managers that they would be better off terminating a project. Despite the risk, it is in your and the client’s best interests to refuse projects that do not have a reasonable chance for success. When you are stuck in contracting with a client, it is because both of you feel that if you don’t get your way, the project will not succeed. If you go ahead with a project you don’t believe in, you run the risk of failure. The reason to terminate projects is not because of consultant petulance, or pickiness, or the desire to engage only in exotic and professionally stimulating work. The reason to say no is to avoid failure. You will also avoid the waste of your resources and your future credibility with other opportunities.

Give more value to your yes.

Another reason to stay open to the possibility of saying no to a client is that you are trying to manage the relationship with the client in a way that you would wish the client to manage relationships with people in their organization. Saying no says that we have limits, that we have a right to declare boundaries and decide on our own what we commit to. If we cannot say no, then yes loses its meaning, and commitment also is taken off the table. We become programmed to say yes. After a while do not know when the yes is sincerely felt or simply born of institutionalized habit.

If you can’t usually say no to a client, there are still some choices for you. For example, you can minimize your investment of time and hope to keep your potential losses down. The easiest way to do this is to postpone the project. Say, “I am willing to go ahead with the project as you have requested, but I suggest that we begin it in eight months.” By this time, this manager may have moved on to another job, or you might have moved on to better things.

If you can’t postpone the project, minimize the scope of the job and the time it will require. Narrow the objectives of the project. Do what you can to reduce the visibility of the project and reduce the drain on your time and energy. The key is to be honest with yourself about the limitations of the project.

So, be realistic about unattractive projects.

Be clear with your boss and others that the project is beginning on shaky ground, that you would rather not proceed, but that you feel you have no choice because you can’t afford to say no to this client. Or, the corporate program is in your hands. Then, do the project in a low-key way.

The critical point to consider is whether it is really in your best interest to go ahead with a project. It may be better to live without the project and not having “converted” that client than to begin a project that might fail. If you pull back from one client, perhaps that client will be angry with you and feel rejected. But you lost only one client. If you proceed with a project that you think might fail and, in fact, it doesn’t go well, you are in bigger trouble. The client is going to tell five other managers how disappointing the project was and how it failed. Now you are in the hole with six managers instead of only one. It is just not good for business to take on low-chance-of-success projects.

Saying no in relationships can be a good thing as long as it is done with respect, honesty, and compassion. It can help you and your clients grow as individuals. Ultimately, it may lead to a stronger partnership where each is trusted, valued, and appreciated. It can also be better for you.

What kind of relationship do you want with your clients?

In a recent Mind Matters article from the Mettinger Clinic, they say the following, “Saying no can create more mental health stability by helping with self-care and build your self-esteem and confidence by setting boundaries. Saying no may be daunting, but there are ways to do it.” One of those ways includes setting healthy boundaries, which we call “wants and offers” in Flawless Consulting. Ultimately, we teach others how to treat us based on what we are willing to accept or not. Never say no, and your clients will always expect yes.

So, what kind of relationship do you want with your clients?

Want more information on how to build the consulting skill of saying no? Check out our Flawless Consulting® workshop based on the international best-selling book.

Leader As Convener by Peter Block

This article, Leader as Convener by Peter Block, is part of our Witness the Common Good series.

We know that leadership matters. Traditionally, we have defined the function as visionary, role model, designer, inspiration, and voice of where we are headed. We ask our leaders to be coach, listener, and a gardener who grows people.  

We also, as an expression of their importance,  “hold” them responsible when things go wrong. They have a cash drawer where the buck stops.

And we think that activism and social change are achieved by a heroic leader.    

Now is a moment for us to reconsider this construction. The option is to ask the leader to create connection among the led. Citizens. Employees. Siloed organizations and functions.  As many have said, move from hero to host. What is new is our decision to make this the top priority of leaders. As to the leader as role model, yes. But that is true of each of us. As well as to coach and nurture those who matter to us.

Leaders, by their position, hold something unique, in addition to their personal qualities: the power to change the context of where accountability and care for the whole reside. To use their position to engage citizens and members in relational activism. For whatever the purpose, decide that social capital and peer engagement is the first priority in high performance, and building a civic world that longs to be safe, educated, economically viable, and healthy.


When we become connected, we become accountable to each other. We know the ways to do this. Every facilitator and organization development person, every community builder, has this capacity.  If we seek accountability and belonging, these relational methodologies are what work. Especially in this hybrid, virtual, volatile time we live in. The problem is that these methods are in the hands of helpers, not most leaders.

Our invitation is to shift the content of what we teach leaders. This involves how we gather, how we occupy a room, both live and virtual, and how we learn. These ways of being and doing are how we best produce accountability in citizens and employees.

Leader as role model, visionary, people developer, and one who holds others accountable is a habit that will be hard to let go of. That notion creates comfort in that it encourages dependency, entitlement, and constant looking at the corner office. Leader presence and behavior as the center of our attention is popular because it lets citizens and employees off the hook.    

The demand for a redefinition of the leadership function is reinforced by the current crisis in social isolation. The challenges and opportunities of working virtually and remotely have been with us for a long time. We are constantly told that we are polarized, siloed, likeminded, and attracted to tribes. All this was intensified by the pandemic and invited us to reconsider how leadership might attend more powerfully to the need for a stronger community and chosen accountability. The future will not be a return to something. It will be the reimagination of something.

The major challenge for leaders will be to develop the skills and mindset to convene and engage people in new ways. Ways that overcome isolation, deepen connections, and prepare people to live into the uncertain realities of all workplaces and communities.  And to do it quickly.  

This shift in how we think about leadership is served by making a distinction between management and leadership. Managers create order in the workplace. They know how to plan, organize, delegate, and control work and people. The value proposition of managing is speed, predictability, and convenience in a disordered world.  

Leadership needs management, but it is much more than that. It holds a larger possibility than creating order and clarity. That possibility is the capacity and power to invite us into an alternative future.

The Leadership Task

The leader’s task is not to promise or define the alternative future. This is too often a marketing campaign. Managing the news. An alternative future does not occur by offering certainty. It begins by increasing authentic connection. Relational activism. Especially with the stranger. This means creating new habits of how we convene people. The purpose is to engage them in co-creating a response to a shifting market, technology, and supply world. To engage them in a response to volatile and fragmented elements of places we care about.  Good leadership has to become more sophisticated in engaging people with each other. The value proposition for this kind of leadership is accelerated trust building, accountability to peers, and adaptability in a complex and fluid setting. These are the benefits in the shift from hero to host and convener.   

We already know a lot about the protocols of convening and engagement. The problem is that they exist primarily in the hands of facilitators, team builders, community organizers, and human resource and organization development people. What is new here is not the actual tools of convening. They have been around for quite a while.

Unfortunately, we have used those tools mostly for out-of-the-ordinary intentions. When we want peers to truly engage, or to set aside times for thoughtfulness and relationship building, we call on retreats, team building, focus groups, recovery groups, spiritual practices, block parties, summits, and special events. As if building trust and accountability and change were needed only on occasion.

Leaders and citizens have had to purchase these skills rather than embody them.  We need to learn how to transfer this convening-and-engagement thinking and its tools into the minds, hearts, and hands of leaders and people who run things. And make these common good protocols a habit. This is how we create impact engagement, a more powerful and authentic alternative to surveys, questions and answers, or requests for feedback.   

Principles of Leader As Convener

There are several principles of leading for this relational activism or high-impact engagement.

  1. Questions are more powerful than answers
  2. The small group is the unit of transformation
  3. Purpose is to go deeper rather than faster. Slow and small is more powerful than speed and scale.    
  4. Conversations between peers are more vital than the interactions between leaders and followers.
  5. Horizontal connection among peers or citizens produces accountability and commitment to the well-being of the whole. The common good.
  6. Highlighting people’s gifts and capacities is what is important. Let their deficiencies rest in peace.

This kind of engagement accelerates building trust and social capital when treated as a first priority. The research is convincing that this produces better outcomes, whether looking at organization results, safety in a neighborhood, healthier citizens, raising a child, or social and economic equity.

We are calling these convening tools Common Good Protocols. This set of tools includes learning the power and specific framing of questions of possibility, dissent, crossroads, ownership, commitment, contracting, and gifts. We need to teach and learn how leaders can use these questions in a variety of settings. This work is both simple and hard. There also must be ongoing support to make the shift.

In addition to the questions, the Common Good Protocols include a range of convening designs built around Open Space, World Café, Appreciative Inquiry, and Art of Convening gatherings.  The challenge to leading through convening is that it relocates and diffuses control, violates employee and citizen-dependent expectations, and asks us to surrender our belief in top-down and bottom-up theories of change and improvement. It also asks us to stop complaining. To give up waiting for people on top to change or people at the middle and bottom to “get on board.”

The Invitation

The invitation is to shift leadership to convener wherever we are together. Any situation where three or more people are gathering. Staff meetings, cross-functional teams, special focus and town hall gatherings, strategy sessions, and education events. Each time people gather––on the phone, a digital platform, or in a room together––is an opportunity to accelerate trust, and to produce peer accountability.

If we care about institutional and community outcomes and transformation in a volatile world, these Common Good Protocols become everyday practices. Every part of every day. It is not about devaluing typical problem-solving, predetermined agendas, and the devices for predictability. It is simply putting management where it belongs, as a useful but second priority. First in line are specific protocols designed to bring us together to connect for the larger purposes of our existence.   

Are you interested in shifting to this kind of leadership? If so, we invite you to join our program, Leader as ConvenerTo recieve more columns, pamphlets, and invitations curated by Peter Block, subscribe today to Witness the Common Good.

Possibilities from Designed Learning (Feb 2024)


The Flawless Consulting: Fieldbook & Companion, 2nd Edition coming Feb 28

In this update to the original book, published more than 20 years ago, there is 40% new content and chapter updates by the initial contributor. A must-have collection of resources for consultants everywhere, it will quickly become your most used reference for everyday consulting engagements.

Order your copy here

Inspiring Inclusion: Women in Consulting 

Join us on March 8, International Women’s Day, to learn from and celebrate some of the great women of Flawless Consulting®.

Together, we will explore topics like maintaining well-being, fostering belonging, navigating contracting, and more. 

Register here

Flawless in Milan

For the first time ever, Flawless Consulting@ Workshops will be in-person in Milan, Italy. Hosted at the Castello Visconteo, you will have the unique opportunity to attend our workshop immersed in the beauty of this historic venue, to connect with fellow eager learners, and to explore new possibilities.

Flawless Consulting® 1 : 23-24 May
Flawless Consulting® 2 : 27-28 May

Learn More

Check out Designed Learning’s Store

Looking to bring some Peter Block wisdom to your home or office? Check out the Designed Learning Store for apparel, accessories, and more!

Visit the Store


“Leader As Convener” by Peter Block

Common Good Protocols suggest a shift from the traditional “command-and-control” leadership model to a convener model to foster a deep, relational engagement and produce stronger communal outcomes. These protocols emphasize the power of well-framed questions, small groups, and peer conversations to build trust, accountability, and a sense of shared purpose.

Read the full article here.

Learn more about Leader As Convener Workshops here

“Witness the Common Good: Transformation within Reach” by Peter Block

What if change started with the relationship? In this column, Peter Block asks us to shift where we put our attention. We have all that we need to create a future that works for the common good of all. 

Read the full article here

Subscribe to our series, Witness the Common Goodreceive monthly columns, invitations, pamphlets, and more from Peter Block 




  • Southern California | Flawless Consulting | MAY & JUNE| Dates, Time & Location TBD
  • Milan, Italy | MAY 23-24 : Flawless Consulting® 1 | MAY 27-28 : Flawless Consulting® 2 | Reserve your seat here
  • Florida’s Space Coast | Flawless Consulting | Q2 | Date, Time & Location TBD | Fill out the interest form here


Are You Consulting Without a Safety Net?

What if we worked with clients in ways that could better leverage our expertise, foster trust sooner, galvanize stronger commitment, and make consulting more rewarding? I find these outcomes more likely occur when I weave a safety net in asking clients for what I want and voice them during contracting conversations:

  • I want you to, at any time, talk with me about how we are working together. This simple yet powerful statement opens the choice for clients to speak authentically about what is important to them and what challenges they face—affirming that my relationship with the client is fundamental to solving the problem. I’m now on the hook for asking clients about their doubts and concerns, naming their resistance, ensuring they feel seen and heard, and expressing what they are doing that is useful to me.
  • I want you to talk to me first, before talking to my boss. Waste of time and erosion of trust occur when we go around instead of directly to sources. With a client’s agreement to #1 above, it makes sense that I be the one talked to first. I always explain that if they go to my boss about something I should hear, my boss will ask, “Have you talked to JP about this?” because my boss and I have made this same agreement.
  • I want you to make the decision when others on this project come to a standstill/impasse. In every project I’ve been a part of, people have gotten stuck. When that happens, this agreement reminds clients that the decision to get unstuck is theirs to make.
  • I want you to agree that I will conduct my own discovery to gain a clear picture of what’s going on. My unique value to the client is my ability to see clearly how the problem is being managed. Without my independent perspective of the underlying dimensions of the problem, I’m left solving only the technical/business aspect of the problem—the presenting problem. The resolution of the real problem requires a change in thinking and action on the part of the client. By looking at the problem in a way that the client can’t, I’m able to identify the impact that goals, processes, and relationships have on the problem—how they keep the presenting problem from being solved. Without this agreement, clients have every right to assume I’ll skip the Discovery and Feedback Phases and move directly into Implementation.  
  • I want you to consider what role you need to play to bring about desired changes and how you may be contributing to the problem. This underscores why solving the presenting problem is not enough and invites our shared exploration. By encouraging early ownership and commitment, this minimizes surprises during feedback and points to what clients have the most control over. Rather than solving problems for clients, I set myself up to help clients solve problems themselves.

What I want from clients above stems from my consulting experiences and lessons learned. (Even today, what is challenging in a relationship can be attributed to what I have not asked for.) Although each relationship and project is unique, I voice this set during every contracting conversation to mitigate what I don’t want. These are in the interest of making sure the project is successful—not to satisfy my own personal whims and wishes. What would it sound like to state clearly and simply what you want from a client?

As humans, our reactions are strongly influenced by the environment we inhabit, and the same holds true for our clients. Without a safety net, we risk doing to the client as an expert or doing for the client as a pair of hands. What’s possible when, as Flawless Consultants, our decisions are grounded in the security of our safety net? By fostering an environment of relatedness and connection, we offer insurance for working with our clients, allowing our expertise to shine. What does your safety net of wants look like?

Article by JP Tier

5 Reasons Why Consulting Is Always a Choice

“What if someone finds out I’m not supposed to be here?!” my inner voice whispered during my first Flawless Consulting workshop. Even my job title as a consultant couldn’t convince me I belonged. The problem was that I judged my value based on others’ perceptions rather than my own. If your inner imposter insists, “I’m not a consultant,” consider these choices:

1. Be Authentic

Put into words what you are experiencing in alignment with what you value. Being authentic with a client who has solutions of their own and expects you to follow their instructions may sound like, “I’m reluctant to support a solution when I’ve not been personally involved in the diagnosis of the problem.” This simple direct statement rebalances the consultant-client relationship.

2. Be Compassionate

Assume good intentions and give clients the benefit of the doubt. Acknowledge that what the client is doing makes perfect sense to them. Care about their feelings. Instead of standing across from a client whose lack of commitment stems from concerns of losing control and getting hurt, stand with them: “Starting a project like this takes some risks on your part, and I appreciate your willingness to take that risk with me.”

3. Exchange Wants

Elicit the client’s expectations of you. Clearly and simply state what you want from the client. “What do you want from me? Here’s what I want from you.” This is in the interest of making sure the project is successful, as you cannot receive what you do not ask for. “I want you to consider what role you need to play to bring about desired changes and how you may be contributing to the problem.” This affirms that you trust yourself to know what is required for you to be successful and gives your client something to trust.

4. Be a Model for the Way You Want Things to Be

Whatever’s missing in a situation is that which you can provide. You go first! Our hope that others will learn and change is best realized through our behaviors of what’s possible. “What concerns do you have about our working together?” “Here’s what you’ve done that has been useful…” This tells our clients it’s okay to show us their warts and wrinkles and teaches them how to work with us.

5. Help Clients Solve Problems Themselves

Instead of solving problems for clients, apply your special skills to help clients solve problems themselves. The distinction is significant. Differentiate between the presenting problem and the underlying problem by understanding how the problem is being managed. Help clients make good decisions by focusing on where they have the most influence – themselves! Enable them to discover the extent of choice and freedom in their lives that they didn’t know they had.

If you’re still unsure if consulting is what you do, consider that every time you give advice to someone who is in the position to make the choice, you are consulting. Being a consultant depends less on your title and more on your choices. As consultants, we often feel choiceless. By opting for humanity in the “flawless” choices above, we enhance our influence and leverage our expertise. How’s that for experiencing more choice?!

Article by JP Tier

Want to learn more about Flawless Consulting? Sign up for our virtual and in-person workshops or get a copy of the book today.

What are you agreeing to?

What are you agreeing to? As an internal consultant, I often hear messages embedded within the culture and hierarchy of the organization about how my work should be conducted. Pressure to be strategic in relationships, speak in an indirect way, and ignore what I’m experiencing at the moment. Those things define my dilemma. Mandates to “never say no” and expectations to convert difficult clients make internal consulting a high-risk endeavor. What I agree to can limit my expertise getting use. It also could amplify the possibility my consulting will be of lasting service.

“We need to run this like a business!”

This statement presumes more control, oversight, and predictability is what is needed. Agreeing to be controlled by this false safety that dehumanizes the culture in the workforce overlooks the most important element of this statement: We! The route to genuine change is less obvious than a list and some milestones. More prescription is what ensures tomorrow will be no more different than yesterday. Relationship is the delivery system of anything we’re looking to accomplish. Agreeing to answer, “What will people do differently because of anything we do together?” invites an exploration of answers that establishes a collaborative relationship and builds client commitment.

“The traditional sense of consulting is not what is needed here.”

As internal consultants, we’re often handed something someone else has started. In response to my want to have a more collaborative partnership with a client, my boss conveyed, “The traditional sense of consulting is not what is needed here.” Ah! The importance of making agreements with the client and my boss within a triangular contract. It is easier for me to agree to do the bidding of my boss as a pair of hands or as an expert. It is better for me to agree to our exchange of what we want of each other. A workable agreement between me and my boss is crucial to a successful client agreement. Just because being collaborative may not always be possible is not a reason to avoid authentically expressing in words what I want to get my expertise used. What future agreements could my boss learn to make with clients through agreements I make with her?

“This client likes to think they are special and is known for getting whatever they want.”

While facilitating a request for my team’s services, a relationship manager cautioned, “This client likes to think they are special and is known for getting whatever they want.” By agreeing to this, I’m confronted with how I am creating the world I’m living in. How might the client work within agreements where consultants have not directly expressed what they want? Could my belief in, and worse, retelling of stories about ogres and angels be contributing to the problem? Could it be prohibiting my expertise from being used? I can agree to look beyond my heroic wish to be all-powerful and successful, reflected in my own concerns of relevance, competence, and self-esteem. Also, I agree to see what is human about clients. I agree to acknowledge how they have similar concerns about losing control, becoming vulnerable, and making a commitment.

We can agree to identify the high self-trust choices we all have as internal consultants. Agree to be ourselves or agree to conform to the expectations we think others have of us. We can agree to play roles and adopt internally alien behavior. Agree to represent some loss of ourselves or agree to present information as simply, directly, and assertively as possible. We can agree to recycle familiar messages or agree to engage people together in a conversation they didn’t expect to have. We can agree not to collude and instead embark on a high-adventure path, operating in a realm of greater risk and reward while still earning the respect and appreciation of our clients, where we give up some safety in service of increased power, impact, and influence.

By JP Tier

Is Your Consulting Flawless?

As consulting professionals, each interaction with a client offers an opportunity to allow the flawless consultant within us to emerge. So is your consulting flawless? The preliminary events of consulting are where we have the most leverage to create successful outcomes during implementation. Furthermore, our reactions to a client, our feelings during conversations, our ability to solicit feedback from the client and give feedback to the client—can accelerate trust, instill balanced responsibility, and build client commitment throughout the consulting process. So, what strikes you about these choices?


(Dealing with emotional issues and agreeing on how to proceed)

ConsultingFlawless Consulting
How’s the weather in your area today?Things have not gone smoothly in our history of working together. That concerns me and I want to rewrite that history. What personal meaning do you find in what we’re doing?
How long has this been going on? Have you tried…?I hear your concern for… And what I hear really matters to you is…
What do you want from this project?What do you want from me?
It would be good to get your support on this.I want you to make the decision when others on this project come to a standstill or impasse.
Based on what we’ve discussed, next steps are…What doubts and reservations do you have about our agreement to work together?
I completely understand. Now, back to…You’ve really helped me see what’s at stake for you. Thank you for trusting me in that way. How do you feel about proceeding?


(Discovering the underlying dimensions of the problem)

ConsultingFlawless Consulting
I’m here to diagnose the problem.What can we create together that we cannot create alone?
What seems to be the problem?What capacities and strengths of others would make this successful?
What process seems to be missing?How is conflict managed?
Who has solved this elsewhere, and how do we import that knowledge?What is your contribution to the problem?
How did this problem start?What’s the future you want to see?
It sounds like the problem is… What if you…?What do you need to do to create the future you’ve described?


(Getting the client to act on the underlying issues)

ConsultingFlawless Consulting
I’m here to teach you how to…What declaration of possibility can you make that has the power to transform this group and inspire you?
As you can see on slide #36…Something you may have control over is… Something you can do is… What’s your reaction to what I just shared?
Another reason my recommendation will work is…What ideas do you recommend for turning this around?
Let me explain a third time what I mean.Are you getting what you want from this meeting?
Believe me—my plan is solid.Here are the choices you have. What promise are you willing to make that constitutes a risk or major shift for you?
I’ll send you the PowerPoint.Something you’ve done in this conversation that’s been of value to me is…

Flawless consultation means consulting as best we can, independent of outcomes. Letting our behavior be consistent with our beliefs and feelings. Trusting ourselves to raise the stakes, engage in caring confrontation, offer strong support, and ensure affirmation of what each of us knows. This is the path that serves us well with clients and increases the chances that our expertise will be used again and again. Make your consulting flawless today. Learn more here.

by JP Tier

3 Reasons Why Reading Flawless Consulting Is Not Enough

Yes, reading is fundamental. And as a valuable and essential method of learning, it does have its limitations, particularly when it comes to acquiring practical skills. Solely relying on reading to learn a skill can be as limiting as learning how to ride a bike by only reading an instruction manual. Mere words on a page won’t help you learn how to maintain balance, coordinate pedaling, steering, and braking, or anticipate obstacles. To avoid getting a flat tire when influencing others, here are 3 reasons why only reading Flawless Consulting is not enough to get your expertise used:

  1. Complex Skills: Consulting skills are intricate and multifaceted, requiring a combination of theoretical knowledge and practical experience. For instance, you may read about the many steps required of consultants within each Consulting Phase, but without actually practicing and honing these steps, you won’t become proficient. Which steps might you have forgotten? What’s possible in reviewing these helpful checklists and worksheets with your clients and asking for their agreement to experience them together?
  2. Lack of Practical Application: Reading alone doesn’t provide hands-on experience. Consulting skills require practice and real-world application to truly master them. Without practical experience, you may struggle to translate theoretical knowledge into real-world actions. For example, consultants often find it easy to ask clients for what they want but can’t imagine putting directly into words what they want from the client to make a project successful. It’s not until this vital skill is practiced that asking for what you want becomes fathomable. Did you know Designed Learning offers coaching and consulting to help you solve problems and impact relationships? How might a conversation with one of Designed Learning’s certified coaches help you implement what you’ve read?
  3. Social Interaction and Collaboration: Consulting skills involve connecting and collaborating with others. Reading alone may not adequately prepare you for real-world interactions that are essential for flawless consultation. When learning a skill, feedback is crucial for improvement. Reading doesn’t offer immediate feedback on your performance or help you identify and correct mistakes in real-time. Did you know that even before the book was published, author Peter Block designed Flawless Consulting as a workshop? It’s true! Our Flawless Consulting® workshop inspires mastery of the promises and phases of the renowned book with an interactive and powerful learning experience. Through use of case studies, role plays, and simulations, participants gain insight into their own individual consulting skills, try new behaviors, and test assumptions to see what impact changes may have on their results and satisfaction back on the job.

Engaging with a skill beyond reading, such as through practical application and experiential learning, can enhance your motivation and enthusiasm for learning. Reading alone might not provide the same level of motivation. Better to combine it with hands-on practice, real-world experience, and interactive learning methods to fully develop your consulting skills. Just like learning to ride a bike, Designed Learning’s solutions and services ensure your skills to have your expertise used, transform organizations, and build healthy partnerships will quickly come back to you when needed.

by JP Tier

Change the Conversation – Change the Culture

By Jeff Evans

“How do we change the culture?” It is a question I have been asked many times while facilitating Flawless Consulting® workshops. The answer? “One conversation at a time.” 

Participants of Flawless find a lot of value in the tools and concepts we cover to be more collaborative and to get their expertise utilized. However, they share that a big barrier to collaborating is the culture- in particular, the behavior of upper management. I spent over 30 years inside large organizations, and I have felt the same way at times. I found myself thinking and saying, “I could be more collaborative if my boss and my clients let me.” For some reason, I felt I couldn’t change if they didn’t change. What I have learned is if I wait for others to change, at any level, I will be waiting a long time. I need to focus on my own behaviors and attitude about how I want to work and relate to others.  

Exchanging Wants

A key element and skill of Flawless Consulting®Ω is exchanging wants with the people I am trying to influence. This means getting curious about what the other person wants as well as being clear about what I want. Easier said than done in organizations where the culture values hierarchy, command, and control. When I am in a support role, trying to influence others with position, power, and authority, it can be easier to focus on their wants and ignore my own. When I do this, I am putting myself in a position to be an “order taker” or “pair-of-hands.” It seems that this is the role many managers want their people to take. “I’m the boss/client/leader; just do what I ask you to do.” This is the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) belief in many organizations.

It Takes Courage

The antidote to being a non-assertive order taker is to change the conversations you are having with your clients, bosses, and leaders. The first step is to get clear about what you want, and the second step is to have the courage and skills to ask. Ask yourself, “What do I want from this leader in order to do my best work?” We aren’t asking for what we want to be selfish. On the contrary, we want to do our best work for the organization. To do this, we have things we want from others.

Getting clear about what we want is the easier step of this process. The more difficult step is having the courage to ask, especially if the culture doesn’t support asking for things from upper management. Ask yourself, “What is the risk of asking for what I want?” Then ask, “What is the risk if I don’t?” Start having these conversations with the people where the relationship is strong. Don’t start with your most difficult relationship. You will build confidence and courage the more you try it. 

Will the culture of the entire organization change from this conversation? Probably not. However, the culture within your sphere of influence will begin to change when you change the conversations you are having. We are operating under a social contract based on command and control. It’s time to renegotiate the social contract. As more people in the organization move toward this collaborative conversation, the culture will begin to shift. Don’t wait for others to change the culture. Have the courage to change your conversations to create a culture of your own choosing.

Get the skills you need to get clear on your wants and help to inspire larger transformation and change within organizations and communities.