Meet Arlen Vernava
Kathy: Hi Arlen, thank you for your time today. To start off, please tell us a little about yourself.
Arlen: I am a husband, owner of a dog, a brother to one younger brother, and the oldest cousin on one side of my family. I was born and raised in Rhode Island and have spent most of my adult life elsewhere, including time in NH, VT, MA, CT, DE, PN, NY, OH.
I’ve been a vocational clergy for all of my vocational worklife. I’m in my 38th year of ministry, working with faith-based institutions. Have worked with around 12 different types of faith-based institutions, including Jewish communities, conference and church boards, along with Baptist, Presbyterian, United Methodist, Lutheran, Reformed, Congregational, Episcopalian, and UCC. I’ve also mentored clergy.
Kathy: WHY do you choose a process consulting approach to your work rather than other methods?
Arlen: I’ve never worked in any other way, other than process consulting. I have acquired many other tools in my toolbox, however this is a methodology I have never shifted away from. Process consulting has always been my overall approach.
Kathy : In your recent workshop, you touched on the PAEI model/method/tool. WHY do you use PAEI instead of other methods?
Arlen: It’s a tool in a toolbox. I’ve been appreciating that it is a tool that offers a way for me to think about what I’m doing and how I’m showing up when with a client and what energy I am bringing to be most helpful, and what energy am I bringing that may not be the most helpful in a given moment. Am I being aware or not aware of this?
It’s also a great tool because as much as it helps me to keep track of me, it also helps a team or a group or an organization keep track of themselves – knowing how they’re showing up for their work, and how they’re managing.
It scales up and scales down quite nicely. I haven’t found a lot of other tools that have such an immediate impact on clients. Whether it’s with a coaching client, a board, or work team, or organization - this model is helpful.
It also helps one to remember the purpose (your ‘why’) and reminds you who is in the frame – who is involved, and who needs to be involved. It moves you towards what you want to do, and when and where, as well as what are the steps needed to achieve those outcomes. These are the principal questions that we ask, or at least have in our mind. The PAEI Model beautifully mirrors or integrates that.
Kathy: I heard that you like to go fly-fishing. Could you share more about that.
Arlen: Yes, I do enjoy fly fishing. It matters to me because it’s about relationships. I have been fishing with two friends for over 30 years. Whether I am fishing by myself, or fishing with others, there is a lovely kind of community that’s happening, as well as a sense of meditation, and a wonderful component of being with oneself, feeling one’s body, and listening to nature. If there are others around, there’s often some friendly chatter with each other. So, it’s really about relationships. With nature, friends, myself, the wonderful delight when get a hook. It’s a bit of skill, and I’m actually pretty mediocre. So every time I go out I can get a little better.
Kathy: If readers want to go deeper and learn more about process consulting or interim leadership, what books, articles, or podcasts do you recommend?
Arlen: If a person is interested in faith-based transitional work, when these institutions are in middle of transition or change, I would recommend Ministry Debt work.
For those who want to do a deep dive into how to pay better attention to their own attentiveness, the Society of Process Consulting offers a course on listening, helping, and learning. That is a sweet way to improve one’s process of attentiveness.
Also, there is a process consulting practitioner named Jack Ricchiuto of Nuance Works. Jack writes about practical triggers and thought pieces about the art of process consulting.