transforming organizationS through
the power of process consulting.

Log in


  • Tuesday, March 22, 2022 9:45 PM | Hallie Knox (Administrator)

    This month’s Member Spotlight falls on Michael Magalsky, Certified Process Consultant and the founder and Principal Architect at infoVia. Now an independent consultant specializing in Information Architecture, Data Warehouse Modeling and Implementation, and Data Security, Michael draws from his quarter-century of data and analytics experience at Micron Technologies while walking alongside his numerous clients.  

    I participated in the Society’s Process Consulting Training course at just the right moment. My professional life, previously so successful and smooth-flowing, hit an unexpected bump when my decades-long employment came to an end. Undeterred, I started my own company only two days later; and promptly injured my relationship with my very first client. I can see now that this harm was largely caused by my own tendencies to be too forceful, and maybe just a little bit of a know-it-all. 

    Something wasn’t working. I wanted to assist my clients, lending them my expertise to guide them through complex issues and challenges, but the listening piece just wasn’t coming naturally for me. Luckily for me, the Process Consulting Training reminded me that listening is a competency and skill that can be learned, practiced, and constantly honed. It had to start with me moving out of “I’m an expert, let me tell you what to do” mode, and into a space of respect, good questions, and deep listening. 

    If you know me personally, you know that I wear my heart on my sleeve and think all my thoughts out loud. High-quality listening is something I have to do with conscious effort, and it takes constant discipline. I’m still working on it, but I can say that today my company has more clients than ever before, and they are all smiling ear to ear. My team and I are transparent, admitting when we don’t know something, and we come in with a listening attitude, ready to innovate together. I intentionally meet my clients with as open a mind as possible, expecting to learn as much from them as I hope they will from me. No single human is ever going to come up with the perfect plan or the most elegant solution, especially in the complex world of data and analytics. Everyone wants to innovate, and everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than just themselves. The best ideas only ever surface through collaboration and partnership. 

    My constant work toward being a better listener has allowed me to experience more of the thing I’m most passionate about in this world: adventure. I seek out adventure in all areas of my life, and in my work I unearth the most exciting challenges and new experiences when I’m doing my best and deepest listening and learning. It’s like climbing a mountain – anytime you might think you’ve reached the peak, just put your hand to your ear and you’ll discover summit upon summit still to go. (For more on this, read my blog about the Great Data Adventure here.) That’s what drives me to get out of bed every morning. Pause and listen. What utterly new situations, people and challenges are you going to discover as you walk alongside your clients today? What new stories will you be able to tell? 


  • Wednesday, February 23, 2022 10:48 AM | Hallie Knox (Administrator)

    When confronted with something completely unprecedented in your experience, it is a best practice habit to follow a simple progression of thought, and as soon as possible. In other words: get after it immediately! 

    It is almost incredible how many families, neighborhood organizations, and enterprises small and large are waiting rather than chasing — standing on the brakes rather than stepping on the gas.   If an organization drinks deeply from hard-won mission/vision/values, it has the guidance and governance under which to accelerate through change. If your client is still hemming and hawing about the proper words, or about whether a mission statement even matters, then they are hemming and hawing their time away during COVID, social unrest, and economic uncertainty.  

    Encourage your clients to find their creative space and start working through these questions without delay.  One way or another, this mental wrestling needs to happen:  

    • What wisdom was left for us by others as they faced their unprecedented circumstances? What implications might there be for our time? 
    • What actually is happening? What do trends imply? 
    • Why does doing anything/something even matter? Toward what end are we wanting to move? 
    • What do we know that we do not know? How will we gather insight? 
    • Who is going to play which role as we address these hard circumstances? 
    • When do we want to complete the next stage of our work of addressing this? 
    • How, exactly, are we going to go after this? 
    • Asking these questions brings a holistic and comprehensive data set, and quickly. 

    Don’t worry about answering the questions in a particular order. But do worry about answering them all.  

    Worry that when they've been populated, they flow together and have continuity.  

    Worry that the client's core team has helped to formulate them and is in explicit agreement with them.  

    Worry that all of communication from here draws directly from this core document.  

    Worry that this becomes a central reference point for all subsequent work.  

    Worry that as new data comes to light, the client will reconvene and adjust the core document with the same rigor with which it was formed in the first place! 

    Don’t worry about it - and watch future opportunity vaporize and current value disintegrate. 

    I was taught to think quickly and thoroughly  by a college professor. His work has influenced almost forty years of my life thus far, helping to guide extended families of blood, faith, neighborhood, town, business, and state in the critical issues of the day. This way of thinking and working influenced my parenting and family life — raising children, shepherding my family through long years of my first wife’s physical suffering, and deciding to marry again and blend a family. It also helped me build a business for the long term, with legacy in mind. 

    Getting more specific, this thoughtful rush to triage and problem solve before reactively responding (or not responding at all) has helped my leadership through 
    • Stagflation 
    • 9/11 
    • 2008-9 
    • Mergers and Acquisitions gone awry 
    • Capital funding efforts gone off the rails 
    • Death and departure of business partners 
    • Death of a spouse 
    • Introducing new products and services to markets that didn’t even know they needed such a thing  
    There is no individual credit taken here. It always took a team of people who knew far more than I and who could leverage their gifts to make something good happen that restored, healed, offered hope, or in some way made the world a little better.  
    A few observations on where we are at this time and the benefits of this thoughtfully rapid approach: 
    • We really are not in an unprecedented moment, even though it might feel that way. Something like this will happen again. And then again. 
    • "Normal" has not changed. Normal involves death, dying, pestilence, famine, war, and suffering. Our normal is working to minimize these, reduce, limit, and find respite from them. Then our descendants are not harmed by our selfish responses but rather are uplifted by our courageous service and  prepared to serve those who proceed from them. Perhaps we have had some years to vacation from this reality; perhaps we have squandered the time. Perhaps now we are ready to re-engage the real work of building a purposeful and civic-minded human community. 
    • Moving to describing an objective future state is the starting point of a leader in difficult moments. After doing this we can begin gathering resources and people around that description. Getting at the questions listed above help us do this, and roles, actions, and objectives now become external reference points for all those who join us in making something happen. 
    • Working this way helps us redirect and even incorporate dissent. If someone wishes to be an enemy to the process of thinking and then acting, they cannot hide in the shadows; the objectives toward which we strive are not hidden and are regularly communicated. Their enmity is thus tied to the effort in which we are engaged far more than a personal hatred. It really is difficult to hate a person who is offering you a listening ear, is not stepping on your dignity and treats you with respect — even when they disagree with you. 
    • Significantly less time gets wasted by stopping, thinking, gathering resources, and then acting. When one is the fool who rushes in or the fool who thinks tomorrow is the day to do something, time and resources disappear through myriad holes. 
    It requires the highest fortitude to not rush in and then to turn one’s strength toward building from a foundation even as it seems the house is falling down. If we can learn anything from this moment in history as leaders, it is that the house is falling down, and that we are absolute fools if our normal is delay, denial, and waiting for someone else to do something for our benefit.


  • Monday, February 14, 2022 7:21 AM | Hallie Knox (Administrator)

    I took a walk with a friend who had spent some of his growing up years as a refugee in the largest refugee camp in Kenya. Because I had spent some years as a humanitarian aid worker in similar situations in other parts of the world, I was curious. I asked, “Who was in charge of the camp?”

    His voice gained energy as he explained how the refugees had organized themselves for governance and named the leaders of their long term refugee camp communities as they had done in their home communities.

    His response surprised and humbled me. I had been expecting him to tell me that the United Nations or Doctors Without Borders oversaw the camp. My friend saw the refugee camp from a different angle. As a refugee himself, he rightly saw himself and his fellow displaced people as the subjects of their own lives and not as objects to be acted upon by an external agency. They were in charge of the camp.

    That experience made me remember a time long ago when I was writing a fundraising letter for a local affiliate of a national nonprofit. I arranged to interview a mother from the neighborhood that the nonprofit served. I had been told that her son excelled in school and that his success could become a good impact story for donors.

    The mother turned my expectations upside down and made me see things in a new way. She did not credit the nonprofit with her son’s academic performance or for her increased family stability. As she reflected on her life, she and her family were rightly at the center of their own story. They were the people who were in charge, taking action and using the resources available to them. They had never thought of themselves as being part of the “target group” of a local affiliate of a national nonprofit. The nonprofit was one of the many resources that the mother accessed in the complex constellation of how she managed her family. Her son’s success had to do with her own nurture, their family culture, school support, and many other factors. The mother did not consider the nonprofit as the savior of her family.

    Have you ever seen examples times when a “helper” takes all the credit for the outcomes? Times when the personal autonomy and decision-making power of a person or group is diminished because outsiders have decided what would be helpful rather than coming alongside with humility as a learner? This happens all too often in international, intercultural and interracial settings when the power imbalance tips towards the helper.

    When I first started reflecting on the vocabulary of process consulting, I felt wary of the word “help” because I had seen too many examples of times when “help” represented power being exercised over someone who was perceived to be in a position of less power. Help must always be paired with humility and a deep respect for the Client’s knowledge and lived experience.

    After a serious earthquake near Jogjakarta, Indonesia, an Indonesian nongovernmental organization (NGO) worked with a community to plan long range recovery in their village. I played a process consulting role with the local NGO. Each of us brought knowledge and background to the co-created plan. The local people knew the relationship dynamics of the village, the leadership structure, and how things needed to function. The local NGO brought their experiences in working with other Indonesian disasters and their awareness of local supply chains. As an outsider, I brought knowledge of international standards for humanitarian response and an ability to ask the questions that would allow a complete plan to develop so that funding could be secured. The ownership of the project rested with the local community. They assessed the needs, created the action plans, and rebuilt their village. The local NGO and my international NGO supported the community’s action.

    In contrast, after the Asian tsunami of 2004, I witnessed an entire village of brand new homes sitting empty and unused. They had been rebuilt in Aceh by a humanitarian agency. No local people moved into that building development because the “helpers” had never consulted local people in the planning of house styles and never asked people what was important to them. The “helpers” had the power and did not know what they did not know.

    My years of international experience have shaped my practice as a process consultant. As process consultants, we help Clients when we come alongside with questions and an attitude of learning rather than an attitude of taking charge and solving problems to our own satisfaction. We help best when we remember that our Clients’ choices and actions are at the center of their stories. We humbly support, clarify, and co-create as a resource to them, but their success rightly belongs to them. The Client, not the process consultant, needs to be the star of their own show.

    People often ask me what a process consultant does. I developed the Venn Diagram, below, to help me describe the role of a process consultant coming alongside a Client. A process consulting approach works well both internationally and domestically, as well as interculturally. A key characteristic of a process consultant is the humility to be curious and to recognize the deep wells of knowledge and experience that our Clients bring. Our part is to ask the questions to bring the clarity needed for forward movement.

    How have your life experiences shaped or enhanced your current work as a process consultant?



  • Monday, January 24, 2022 5:04 PM | Hallie Knox (Administrator)

    Our current member spotlight and guest blogger is Eloiza Altoro! Eloiza is a national and international Organizational Development Consultant. She founded her consulting business, Mind Redesign Consulting, over 20 years ago. She specializes in partnering with nonprofits and professional associations within the areas of governance, planning, transition management, and executive leadership coaching. She is also the Fund Advisor of the Nonprofit Management Fund, a donor-advised fund, which disseminates capacity-building mini-grants within the Greater Milwaukee Area. 

    Here’s a question: how relevant is the first degree you ever earned to the career you hold today? As a young adult I majored in clinical psychology and professional communications, and today I am an Organizational Development Consultant. From the outside that may seem like a leap, but there’s a common thread between the study of psychology and organizational development.  Psychology is the study of human behavior and organizational development is all about changing behaviors to create positive cultural and systematic organizational shifts. You cannot influence organizational change without directly dealing with the people within an organization.  

    After years spent working in and leading non-profits, earning a Master's in Organizational Leadership and Management, and starting my own consulting business over two decades ago, the underlying goal has remained constant. I just want to work with people to clearly identify the issues and to come up with creative solutions.

    have learned that "helping" can be beneficial or hindering as a consultant. I excel at helping non-profit organizations through complex internal challenges - when I help "the right way."

    As a process consultant, I am most helpful when I put the client first, listening actively and solving those complex problems collaboratively. However, the longer you are a consultant, the harder it becomes to stifle an automatic response to solving problems. I realize that I still have plenty of opportunities to work on setting ego and pre-conceived notions aside in order to truly remain client-focused!

    For those aspiring or new consultants out there, remember that wanting to help isn’t enough. Although it is necessary to let the client guide the process, you still need to bring your "whole self" to the process.  I’m not talking about bragging about your expertise; I’m talking about being true to yourself by cultivating your natural talents, creating your niche and knowing your limitations. When a consultant deeply and authentically embraces the gifts they bring to the table, fully understands how they can contribute to the overall health of an organization, and is able to effectively communicate that to potential clients, they will be able to take their business to the next level of endurance and success.

    Non-profit consulting is not a job for me, it’s my calling in life. I wake up every morning excited to see what the day offers. I would argue that authenticity is the number one characteristic necessary to survive and thrive as a consultant. The longer that I have been in this field, the more humble and confident I have become in the work that I do and the decisions that I make.


  • 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 taking the time to truly listen to your customers. 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, we should make no assumptions around problems or DEI proficiency levels from client to client. Deanna’s podcast began out of her sincere 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


Subscribe to the Society for Process Consulting Blog!

© 2021 Design Group International | 1-877-771-3330 ext. 2 | [email protected]
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software