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  • Tuesday, December 14, 2021 11:16 AM | Hallie Knox (Administrator)

    It sure feels like we are living in a brand-new time - a time of deep entrenchment of opposing views. From a contentious national election to the pressure points of a worldwide pandemic, from the growing wealth disparity to the state of race relations to the conversation around climate change, a sense of division seems to pervade the communities of this country like never before.  

    Bob Dylan thought times were a-changin’ 60 years ago. You may feel that today’s divisions are just 2021 versions of that same old thing, or perhaps you, too, feel like we are living in a time of unprecedented change. How do we as process consultants help others lead in the midst of such turbulence and disunity?  

    Humanity as a species could rarely be called peaceful. According to sociologist Todd Gitlin of Columbia University, America’s one constant is division. From the forceful displacement of indigenous people groups to the horrors of slavery to the fight for women’s rights, when has this country (let alone the world) ever truly been unified? In the face of such issues, how could it be? 

    We as process consultants are called to listen. We build, maintain, and grow relationships to help others most effectively chart their leadership paths to serve their organizational mission. We give help by learning what is present in others’ current belief systems. Through listening to how they view their world, we help leaders identify how to lead a diverse staff, board, and constituency with eyes on the focused mission. 

    Recently, a colleague and I moderated a workshop we entitled Engaged Donors in a Divided Culture at a national economic development conference. We engaged a panel of noteworthy non-profit leaders: a K-12 school superintendent, a Chief Executive of a national relief and development organization, and a Chief Executive of a United Way chapter. We wanted to know: how did these successful organizations keep meeting and even exceeding their goals with such a wide and varied constituency, whose members appear to be at odds half the time? How did the board members and senior team members who span that wide divide work effectively together?  

    What stuck with me from our panelist's powerful responses were the following pieces of lived advice of how to engage donors in a divided time:  

    • Pursue innovation, because that is what wins market share. Change is constant. 

    • Be relevant. What can that mean for your organization? Ask your clients. They will tell you.  

    • Think generationally. Do you have different strategies to reach different age groups?  

    • Relations are still vital, probably MORE vital in times of great polarization.  

    • Do acrobatics, if you must, to reach your target clients. Do so with grit and defiance. Authentic caring wins in the long run.  

    • Do not chase yesterday’s donor. Be more future focused than hung up on preserving the past.  

    • Stay on mission and core values. Always. Those on the poles of whatever division will try to push you off mission. Come back, repeatedly. Your mission is your organization’s north star.  

    Maybe, as Todd Gitlin says, our disunity is actually what unifies us. What would it look like to quit trying to get everyone to see the world “like I do,” and to instead embrace differences and commit to on-mission relationships for the betterment of a beloved organization? 

    Can we as helpers, as process consultants, empower our clients to embrace the differences around them (even though doing so assuredly sounds much easier than it is)? We are listeners. We can lead by example by working together even in our disunity and by practicing authentic caring first. By modeling such caring we can “seek first to understand, then to be understood,” as Stephen Covey taught so well in his best-selling book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Whether we are simply reliving past cycles of disunity or swimming in truly uncharted waters - we can commit to prioritizing relationships with all persons. The times may be a-changin’ but the practices of caring, listening, helping, and learning can unite us all.  

    Resources 

    1. The demands of change from the pandemic’s beginnings to our current realities are explored in Dawn Y. Graber’s blog series on Change found at:  

    2. Discerning the difference between Technical Problems & Adaptive Challenges is central to agreeing on what kind of organizational or interpersonal animal we are dealing with. 

    - Technical problems are those that are more concrete, have known solutions, and can be fixed by those who understand and have the capability to solve the problem. Inflating the pressure in your car tires is a technical solution to a technical problem. 

    - Adaptive challenges are those situations in which not only is there no known solution, we are having difficulty even agreeing on how to frame the challenge. Since there is so much variance in possible solutions, the action is not fixing but rather is learning. Someone learning how to adjust their habits of eating, exercising and other life-style changes for better health is initially facing an adaptive challenge. 

    For more on this approach and others, see Phil Bergey’s podcasts and blogs at LeadershipMeetsLifePodcast.com and LeadershipMeetsLifeBlog.com  
      
    3. Use Wicked Questions to bring to light competing challenges that must be confronted to succeed. See description and examples at: https://www.liberatingstructures.com/4-wicked- questions/  

    Welcoming and inviting engagement when two or more simultaneously realities exist can elicit strategic possibilities not first evident when our planning is constrained to either/or thinking. Instead, how can you build on both/and strategies despite paradoxical forces at play?  

    4. Navigating Polarities is a powerful approach to so many of the challenges we face in our work and in life. 

    Using a definition of polarity in which both poles form a dynamic tension such that both are needed for the good of the whole, it focuses on discerning the benefits of each pole as well as the overuses of each pole. The difficulty in work and life occurs when I compare the benefits of my preferred pole to the overuses of your preferred pole. The opportunity is to find ways to navigate both poles to achieve the benefits of each pole through a third way. 

    For more on this approach and others, see Phil Bergey’s podcasts and blogs at LeadershipMeetsLifePodcast.com and LeadershipMeetsLifeBlog.com  

    5. Other Resources: 
    • The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and ReligionHaidt, Jonathan. (2012). Vintage. Social psychologist and bestselling author Jonathan Haidt takes a moral reasoning approach that values the gut at least as much as the mind. He argues that people have a set of moral values that guide their preferences and decision making. He explains why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have such differing intuitions about right and wrong. 

    • Change: How organizations achieve hard-to-imagine results in uncertain and volatile times. Kotter, J. P., Akhtar, V., & Gupta, G. (2021). Wiley. This recent publication responds to the fervent nimbleness and adaptability needed by successful organizations in today’s fervent sea of change. Kotter and team, as change management experts, use case studies to highlight strategies to engage in breaking free from legacy systems to compete in today’s marketplace. 


  • Wednesday, December 01, 2021 9:34 PM | Hallie Knox (Administrator)

    Jennifer Miller is a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer and Owner of Strategically Connected, a process consultant, and a Society member who believes that at the core of all organizations and processes, people are what drive change and growth in a company. Her passion for supporting companies to build scalable processes has impacted many organizations over the years, one of which received the honor of the #1 Fastest-Growing Technology company in Austin and #86 on the 2019 Inc 5000 list. She served as President of the Austin American Marketing Association Board (a national organization focused on connecting and developing marketers) during the 2020-2021 Board Year winning the national “Turn It Up Chapter of the Year” award against 70+ chapters. Jennifer embeds herself into the lives of the companies she works with to help them in very intentional and strategic ways. She believes that every problem is "figureoutable," and she strives to help bring simplicity to complex situations. Continue reading for her thoughts on how the core tenets and skills of process consulting intertwine with her work in the world of marketing.

    The worlds of marketing and process consulting link in a thousand tiny ways, but no commonality is more evident than each field's dependence upon deep, active listening. Think of those insidious online ads following you through cyberspace – how did the Instagram deities know that this gadget, jacket, or leather-bound journal is the exact thing you now want on your Christmas wishlist? Well, they've been "listening."

    This virtual and automated listening can sometimes allow for a personalized touch, but there is nothing more significant than YOU spending the time to listen to your customers truly. The listening necessary to form and maintain effective customer engagement is of the deepest and most comprehensive sort, and it focuses on authentic connection and the identification of genuine needs. This connection happens externally with the company's target audience and competitors and internally with its employees and culture.

    In my work with clients, ranging from financial organizations to software companies and beyond, my focus is consistently on encouraging and growing a company's connection to and comprehensive understanding of its context. It is so easy for a new company to swoop in, make assumptions about their customers' wants, and forge ahead with its own roadmap instead of pausing to listen. My task often focuses on helping shift a company's message to potential customers from "Here's what you need and why" to initial questions like, "What goals and challenges are keeping you up at night?" Once that real conversation has occurred, customers can draw to a service or product that is genuinely the thing they want or need.

    As I mentioned above, this comprehensive, contextual listening needs to occur in both an organization's internal and external realms. Companies often forget that the practices of internal communication, culture-building, and employee engagement are marketing. Employees are the first point of contact, and a holistic picture cannot be constructed without dialogue with the front-line employees. What could be more engaging than employees who feel heard and acknowledged, whose experiences with customers are taken into account, whose opinions are considered in the making of high-level corporate decisions, and who are therefore more likely to be fully invested in and live and breathe the company mission and mindset?

    It is also worth noting that comprehensive external listening should not be limited to a customer base alone; companies often need to be reminded of how valuable it is to listen to and engage with potential competitors deeply. My questions for my clients often are: What is their impact? How do you relate to them? What are your differentiators that make you special and unique? As a process consultant, I work to understand that differentiation and encourage my clients never to stop reevaluating their place in relation to competitors.

    The process consulting principle of listening adaptively is also vital in the constantly changing world of marketing. Technology and platforms are constantly updating, consumer culture swings this way and that, and customer reactions can surprise you time and time again. Processes have to be built in ways that encourage quick readjustments, with methods and campaigns constantly tested, tweaked, and iterated upon. 

    At the end of the day, marketing is all about people - understanding people, seeing challenges through the eyes of customers and employees, and supporting growth through adaptability. Approach today a little differently – 

    • How can you seek understanding first?
    • What questions can you ask before assumptions?
    • Where can you creatively adapt to chaotic situations?

    "The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits and sells itself." - Peter F. Drucker


  • Monday, November 15, 2021 5:04 PM | Hallie Knox (Administrator)

    I am Jordan Roman, Society member and consultant with P3 Development Group in Milwaukee. I did not come into consulting thinking I was a consultant, and truth be told I am only just starting my journey in process consulting. I am very definitely still a “beginner.” I would argue that, for the process consultant’s intents and purposes, that’s the best way to be.

    I just wrapped up my participation in a Process Consulting Training course through the Society, and only recently joined P3 Consulting Group as a consultant after many years in management and operations. Stepping out of that fast-paced, solutions-focused world into the slow and thoughtful realm of process consulting has been quite the turnaround. On the one hand, so many of the precepts of process consulting – of open-minded listening, of asking good questions, of developing a peer relationship and collaboratively problem-solving with the client – are plain old common sense. On the other hand, work environments can force us to put that common sense on hold in favor of quick, surface-level solutions, and actually putting the core process consulting precepts into practice takes so much intentionality, strategy, and thoughtfulness. 

    In my previous operations roles I was often expected to manage team members’ problems by handing out quick, canned solutions. I was the expert and the problem-solver, and often addressed issues in “big picture” mode, taking in only the basic details before making a decision. Stepping into a process consultant role has really allowed me to slow down my thinking and encounter new situations with an open mind. And my mind is made all the more open by the fact that I am NOT the expert, that so much of this IS new to me – it hardly feels possible to avoid listening deeply, working collaboratively and thinking holistically when it is so plain to me that the client truly is the expert who holds their own solutions somewhere, and I am just along for the process of teasing it out through good questions and an open-minded, “outsider” perspective. 

    As process consultants, we step into our work with every client as “beginners,” as learners bringing no assumptions to the table. We join the true experts – our clients – in getting into the weeds, nuances and complexities of a situation. They bring the background knowledge; we bring open minds and a briefcase full of good questions. We serve our purpose best when we are NOT the experts.


  • Thursday, November 04, 2021 12:54 PM | Hallie Knox (Administrator)

    As process consultants, we know that failing to listen to and learn from our unique clients will ultimately cause harm, rather than help. Continue reading for one of our members’ reflections on how the practices of partnership and asking the right questions have played out in all areas of her life, and have contributed to her meaningful impact in the fields of process consulting and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI).

    Last month I interviewed Deanna Singh, Founder & Chief Change Agent of Flying Elephant, an umbrella organization for four social ventures. Through their work in the spheres of DEI, healthcare, children’s literature and leadership, these four companies aim to shift power to marginalized communities. Deanna is also a founding member of the Society for Process Consulting, and hosts the Uplifting Impact podcast

    Deanna’s definition of success, as imparted to her by her parents, has played out in both her professional and personal life: “You don’t just define success by how well you’re doing; you define success by how well those around you are doing.” Mutual support is a lifetime commitment and goal for Deanna, who affirms that the solutions to all the worlds’ problems already exist: they just haven’t been unleashed yet. The process consultants’ job is to ask the right questions and facilitate discussion that will help clients manifest solutions they already have at their fingertips.

    This could not be truer than in the world of DEI, where continual learning is key and where, as consultants navigating in and out of organizational culture, should make no assumptions around problems or DEI proficiency levels from client to client. Deanna’s podcast began out of her since desire to share her learning in DEI with everyone she could.  

    Deanna’s upcoming book, Actions Speak Louder (Penguin Random House May 2022)  offers a step-by-step guide for organizations and individuals who seek to contribute towards diversity, equity and inclusion, and need more tools to do so. 

    During a time when mass resignation and the world-wide trend of individuals re-evaluating their core values and purpose, Deanna is an active example of a professional living into her mission.

    Three steps to learn more:

    1. Listen to the full 15-minute interview at the link below.

    2. Connect with Deanna at the Uplifting Impact website, where you’ll find her podcast and more details on the How to Be an Ally Summit.

    3. Check out her upcoming book, Actions Speak Louder, for a practical guide towards creating impactful, lasting change!

    Listen to my conversation with Deanna here. 

  • Wednesday, September 29, 2021 1:09 PM | Hallie Knox (Administrator)

    Sister Lilian Vernyuy, one of the newer members of the Society for Process Consulting, adds to our global reach. Part of her vision is to bring the Process Consulting approach to Cameroon.  We invited her responses to a few questions:

    Can we begin with your vocation within your vocation?  You are Cameroonian, trained as a nurse and are part of a Catholic order that placed you at an Elderly Home Community in Spain. That sounds like a fascinating story of personal development and being sensitive to a calling. How did this all develop?

    I am part of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus of Buea – Cameroon. Responding to the call to serve the universal church, my Congregation in 2013 sent me as a missionary to the Diocese of Teruel and Albarracin in Spain. My mission offers me an opportunity to serve in this elderly home community with 90 members. I cannot emphasize any less the power of the Divine Hand at work in this call to service.

    It has been a pleasant and an enriching experience to live and work in a culture very much different from mine. I had to learn Spanish beginning from A, B, C etc. I had to battle with climate change, adapt to the gastronomic differences, just to name a few. I feel fulfilled and happy that I had this opportunity for personal development and growth. 

    And somewhere in here you became deeply interested in the process approach to consulting. How does that come into play in your work?

    The process approach to consulting as I came to discover is a necessary tool for success in every sphere of life. It is an organized way of doing things for greater success and yields. No one sets out to do something and fail, yet some people are more ego-success driven than others. It is with my ego-success spirit that I began to evaluate the success rate of our congregational and home projects. I realized that most of them were a failure and largely this was due to a lack of putting in place correct and good strategies. Reflecting more deeply and talking about this challenge with some friends, I got inspired by the results of the process approach to consulting and felt it was a needed solution for us.

    The knowledge I gained from the Process Consultancy Course with Design Group International has helped me to re-organize my work in a more fruitful way. I have been able to strengthen our team to improve our decision-making by using the process approach.  There is more clarity and less stepping on each other´s toes. We have been able to re-organize our organigram, re-define job descriptions and develop more meaningful policies and procedures using the process approach. 

    What are some of the ways that a process approach to consulting assists cross-cultural and multi-lingual scenarios?

    From my experience, using a process approach provides clarity and enhances better outcomes. When I became part of our management team, I had many challenges understanding certain decisions and their influences because of cultural differences. These began to be resolved when we started meeting frequently and using the process approach to enhance the quality of decisions we were making. 

    I come from a culture where respect for the elderly may be considered excessive when compared to other cultures. It is possible to be part of a group or work in a team with elders and your contributions are not considered just because you are younger and expected to listen to your elders and keep quiet. As a younger member of the team in another culture my tendency was to be reserved, listen and contribute minimally for fear my ideas would not be duly considered. But with the process approach to consulting, I realized that I was able to freely participate in our deliberations and decision making as well as feel more connected and committed to our decisions.  

    The process approach to consulting deepened my relationship with others because it builds trust, transparency, and collaboration.  In brief, from my experience and in my judgment, this approach helps broaden engagement and creates an inclusive environment that breaks cultural barriers. 

    What advice would you have for someone already deep in the experiences of their career who would like to pursue some training in process consulting?

    After experiencing the benefits and importance of process consulting, I would like to provide the person with a similar and why-not-better experience. I would readily advise the person to make the most of any opportunity to acquire and nurture more skills in the area of process consulting.  It is a key that opens the door to quality decisions and success in both personal and professional life. 

    It is not the same doing something and doing that same thing well. The Process approach to consulting used either at individual or group level is an essential tool for success. Given that it helps in the improvement of businesses, I would advise anyone desiring better outputs to attain this knowledge that will enable him/her to manage and improve key business processes that directly impact the ability to serve the client or customer.

    What is next for you?

    Having gained knowledge of the process approach to consulting, it is my ultimate desire to put this knowledge into practice by helping those who need consulting beginning with my Congregation. As it is often said, “Charity begins at home.” Since process consulting is based on the foundation that consultation focuses on a helping relationship, I will work with and not for the client to encourage mutual benefits. I am equally working on continuous self development and growth in the consultancy career. 

    It is my fervent wish to build a full-time consultancy. To achieve this, I have to develop funding sources to be able to establish LIVEN & CO Consultancy when I return to Cameroon. At the moment, I am searching for partnership opportunities and creating a link with Community Vision Group.

    - mark l vincent



  • Wednesday, June 23, 2021 8:00 AM | Jennifer Miller (Administrator)

    Long ago, my graduate work focused on helping groups that needed to work together to find a way to agree and move forward. An often-used example is the university that wants to build a new dorm next to a neighborhood organization that feels encroached upon. The city's zoning board gets drawn into the fray....

    Another example is the manufacturer that needs engineering, marketing, sales and finance to get in alignment so that a new to the world product can come to the market.

    An important insight for organized discernment and decision-making like this - especially within and in between organizations is that both formal and informal  process need attention. 

    • Formal - Organized and scheduled activity that does and then governs the work among people appointed to their roles and responsibilities.
    • Informal - the conversations in the parking lots,  homes, group chats, serendipitous encounters, and diners--often after formal meetings take place, and often between a mixture of people whose voices were minor in any formal process with people who were not even in the meetings.

    When I wrote a training manual for the discernment methods that grew from my research, and then began facilitating training workshops across Canada and the U.S., I often said "There will always be informal and formal dynamics when we have important decisions to make. The trick is to have the informal inform the formal ahead of time." If we attend to the informal ahead of time we gain insight, alignment and ownership for what we decide to do. Otherwise, the informal dynamics breed undermining, resistance and passive aggression among those not asked, drawn out, or heard and understood.

    Let's say we've mastered this soft power approach to build agreement as we build organizations, make decisions, and foster movements and a heart for the world to flourish. We would be naive to believe our listening thoroughly ahead of time clears the field from all resistance.

    • Even when a normally cynical person is surprised by an honest and consistent leadership group that seeks input to inform and plan, and then actually warms up and participates, their long-used muscles to complain and resist may well kick in again after the fact.
    • Other players or dynamics usually emerge even after we were so thorough in our attempt to get broad alignment and ownership.
    • We should be prepared for cynical behaviors, even among those who stand most to benefit and may originally have been the most vocal champions.
    • We need to understand that all of the good that could have come might not come as quickly as we prefer because others will decide not to participate.
    • We must learn that an imperfect step on a longer journey and with fewer companions is far better than expecting a perfect community of perfect democracy in every organization that touches us.

    Acting nimbly, kindly, and persistently, freely brings a tempering to us, along with a burnished wisdom, rather than the impotence of escaping to seeming safety by powering up in order to bully others, to hide, or to cast blame. It brings needed conversations into a safe light where we all can participate, rather than prompting us to whisper behind our hands and in dark corners.

    As Process Consultants, what changes for us if we come to building Client Agreements expecting informal dynamics as a normal part of the process rather than being surprised by them? What if our iterative questions used in designing a process with a client helped to build the client's awareness of the need to incorporate dissent rather than alienate it? What would it look like if our awareness of our own capacity for healthy and unhealthy dissenting behaviors informed our consulting technique?

    - mark l vincent


  • Thursday, February 25, 2021 8:00 AM | Jennifer Miller (Administrator)

    As process consultants, we are often in the middle of significant transformation within organizations. Change is difficult. We know this…but what can we do to make it less difficult and more engaging for the people contributing to the process?

    This month, I interviewed Society member and Certified Process ConsultantTM Kristin Evenson of Junctures.net, a consultant and coach specializing in a brain-based approach. The audio of the interview is below the post. Kristin is also co-host of the Third Turn podcast.

    Kristin made the connection between neuroscience and consulting through professional and personal experience.  For instance, when strategic change was needed in an organization, conflict would often emerge and it would be unsettling for team members to navigate. In a personal example, when faced with life decisions her “soul would be super-engaged” but her brain would go into alarm mode.

    Why does this happen? Because the brain is inherently resistant to change and it distinguishes between a threat or a reward in 1/5 of a second…and the brain is predisposed to make negative judgments as a mode of self-preservation.  The impact of threat/reward interpretations is significant: Situations we approach as “reward” engage and enliven our thinking, helping enhance our creative thinking and collaborative abilities; situations we interpret as “threat” literally shrink our mental capacity--specifically our ability to think creatively and collaboratively.

    Kristin studied neuro-based coaching at the NeuroLeadership Institute (NLI). Based on extensive research, NLI recognized five specific social threats common to people in a change process. The acronym SCARF® represents the five perceived threats to a person’s sense of:

    S = status

    C = certainty

    A = autonomy

    R = relatedness

    F = fairness

    If you have ever been in a meeting and you feel uncomfortable, and you are not sure why, you might be subconsciously interpreting a social threat. Kristin said that as consultants, by being aware of social threats we can proactively facilitate opportunities for people to more easily interpret or reframe situations as a reward, rather than a threat.

    Any of the SCARF threats or combination of them puts us on the defense naturally.  It could be something from a person’s personal history that can suddenly trigger them, especially if they have been othered or treated unfairly in the past. If we as facilitators can help people reframe these threats, or at least name them, it eases the discomfort.  Pausing to acknowledge tension and emotions can calm down the limbic system and help teams to re-group.

    Kristin said, “What is so great about process consulting is it allows choices and options and people are co-creating solutions together. By handling the threats, you can increase brain capacity for thinking creatively and courageously.”

    Three steps to learn more:

    1. Listen to the 15-minute interview at the link below to get advice on how to reverse the threats.
    2. Connect with Kristin at Junctures.net and Third Turn Podcast.
    3. Take a SCARF assessment at the NeuroLeadership Institute. We all have a distinctive SCARF profile, which helps us recognize the threats we’re personally most prone to or triggered by. As consultants and facilitators, knowing your own SCARF profile can be helpful as you engage in difficult situations and help others navigate change in positive, collaborative, creative ways.

    Listen to my conversation with Kristin here.

    - Kim Stezala



  • Thursday, February 04, 2021 8:00 AM | Jennifer Miller (Administrator)

    A brief article at the back of the Economist (Rum punch and the pandemic, 9 January 2021) tells us about COVID on the island nation of Barbados and gives Process Consultants* everywhere an illustration of how a critical process gets so easily derailed by people on the seeming periphery. 

    Almost through the end of 2020, Barbados was able to keep cases to a trickle, but at the end of the year neighboring island nations identified Barbados as high risk.  What happened?  The article identifies two culprits.

    1. Controls on travelers. Even though travelers needed a negative test to come to Barbados, and even then had to quarantine until a negative second test, a number of people tested positive after arrival.

    2. Local spread. Pub crawls and holiday celebrations turned into super spreader events.

    Actually, it really is just one culprit: People. People who decide not to participate in the process, people who appear to participate in the process but in reality are not, and people who are deeply in the process but are more worried about enforcement than ongoing learning. 


    People who decide not to participate

    In Barbados, prison guards participated in one of those pub crawls. Dodds prison (St. Philip parish) then recorded more than 170 cases among staff and inmates in the days that followed.

    It isn't likely that the general population of Barbados was invited to help form the principles for community response to a health outbreak. They were just told in response to COVID, as were citizens of most nations. This lack of additional work to include the larger populations plays out in public protests, public funerals of celebrities, and larger splits among people.

    When we ask "Who needs to be consulted?"  in identifying the people and roles played in a process design with a client, the client must account for the ownership of the process and alignment with those among whom the process will be implemented. Ongoing development of a partnership must happen, or the response will be that of a victim.

     

    People who appear to participate but in reality are not

    Zara Holland, former Miss Great Britain and a minor celebrity from her time on a reality TV dating show, removed the red bracelet she needed to wear as someone who tested positive. So did her partner. They travelled around Barbados on holiday and tried to fly back to London. She has subsequently apologized to the people of Barbados and has been ordered to pay a fine. 

    This dynamic is something Kim Stezala and I labelled the Lieutenant Effect, in our article Wheel forward or spiral downward: making a choice for strategic design. Process consultants are wise to assume passive-aggressive behavior will be present from the beginning and at the highest level of client organizations. It is the highest art of the profession to name it and shine a light on it without shaming those who are likely to enthusiastically shake your hand while peeing on your shoe. 

    Why does it happen?  Change exposes weakness or a problem to address. It is easy to be embarrassed and to feel that the work to improve something is a reflection of one's incompetence. If a person does not feel safe, they are likely to extend some of the behaviors (conscious or unconscious) that added to the problem, extended the problem, or even covered up the problem until it could be hidden no longer.  It is a good consultative question to ask "Who might be threatened by this, and how might we help them feel safe?"  Also, "What might we do if someone who is important to this decides not to cooperate?"

     

    People who are deeply in the process but are more worried about enforcement than ongoing learning

    Fortunately for the people of Barbados, the prime minister is leading the process to make adjustments,  tamper-proof bracelets as a for instance. But imagine everyone downstream who has to adapt yet again and deal with the public. If they think of this as messing with their work rather than the work itself, they will represent one more slow down to an effective response.

    So much of a Process Consultant's work is keeping the lifeline of reality visible for clients to do their own work. Who, among all the leaders and organizations, can claim to have finished building and supporting the organization so that it fulfills its mission?  We are so tempted to believe this is possible, either by denying the reality of what is happening or by resisting the fix we claim to want. The Process Consultant helps to safely articulate this reality while inviting engagement within the client organization to do something real and substantial.

    Process Consultants must also be realistic.  The derailing is happening even as they get started. Better to face it now, designing process with that expectation, being surprised when it does not show up rather than denying its presence and being surprised that an elegant solution never got underway.

     

    * A good (re)primer on Process Consulting was developed in a blog post by Matt Visser, a Senior Consultant in Design Group International's community of practice.


    -mark l vincent



  • Tuesday, December 15, 2020 8:00 AM | Jennifer Miller (Administrator)

    During the recent fall season, a cohort of highly accomplished professional consultants walked through the beta test of the first curriculum designed to develop the 12 Core Competencies of Process Consulting. 

    Their responses went beyond overwhelmingly supportive to identifying this as one of the most transformative and helpful training experiences they had in their adult life. It was awesome to witness this growth and application among people I highly respect. This Process Consulting Training 201 course goes live in 2021 and is nearly already full! I look forward to serving as its facilitator for some time to come. Interested? You can register here.

    One happy and important part of my experience with developing this material was learning about and folding in some of the work done recently by the Danish scholar, Lene Rachel Andersen, especially the robust definition of Bildung she is making visible beyond the Nordic countries where it began. Here we find a framework on which to re-build home life, communities, working teams and a larger civil society during a time with so much despair about the possibility of really working together, and doing so for the welfare of generations who will follow us.  Not only were these writings of benefit to the course development, but we were able to schedule Ms. Andersen for a two-part Third Turn Podcast many are enjoying.

    To put this in perspective, Bildung implies lifelong learning that combines individual and institutional freedom with individual and institutional responsibility, doing so for the welfare of others. Without it, civilization deteriorates and flourishing ceases. With it, the field of Process Consulting has a mission to match the reasons why we humans build organizations in all sectors in the first place.

    Bildung needs to stop being an exotic word spoken by people with ski sweater collections. It needs to find its way into all our collective and global WHY.

    Take a look at our 12 core competencies:


    Download a copy of the Core Competencies.


    - mark l vincent


  • Thursday, October 01, 2020 8:00 AM | Jennifer Miller (Administrator)

    My colleagues and fellow Society members Phil Bergey and Matt Visser collaborated on this wonderful distillation of Process Consulting and its distinctives. Enjoy!  If you would like participate in an upcoming 101 course on Process Consulting, you can register here.



    - mark l vincent



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