21st Century Process
consulting is a late 20th century practice. Classically
espoused in the works of Edgar
Schein (especially Process Consultation Revisited),
this model is based on consultation as a "helping
mutual nature of this relationship, with the consultant
working with and not for the client is a
keynote of the process consultation philosophy.
consultation is generally contrasted with expert consultation
and is frequently seen by its advocates as a superior style of
management consulting. In practice, however, almost all
management consulting involves a mix of expert and process
models, with the consultant frequently shifting roles to meet
the needs of the situation. Schein himself notes the need for
such fluidity in practice.
Be this as
it may, process consultation certainly has many strengths. As
compared to experts who bring packaged solutions that may have
general validity, but in fact are not the best prescription for
the your organization, process consultation has the powerful
advantage of being by its nature specifically tailored to your
other ways in which this model of management consulting provides
clear and undeniable benefits are as follows:
Partnership between client and consultant. The
consultant and the client act as equals.
The client provides the knowledge of the organization's
nature, business, and issues; and the consultant provides the
knowledge of the techniques, ways of thinking, and practices
that can solve the problem.
The partnership model ensures against false solutions
that may be trendy, clever, and wholesome, but are not in fact
fully applicable and sufficiently relevant to the particular
organizational development issue.
Proper maintenance of mutual responsibility.
The client owns the problem and determines the solution.
The consultant helps the client to see the issues and find what
needs to be done. By not imposing a point of view, the process
consultant ensures that a real solution, not an attractive but
impermanent fix, is obtained.
Increased capacity for lessons learned.
The "masked rider" consultant who provides a silver
bullet may be widely honored and cheered by all upon riding off
into the sunset. But too commonly the ammunition doesn't last,
and someone has to be called in again. By providing help that
learning-based, process consultation ensures increased ability
by the client to continue to deal with the situation.
Better fit with current organizational needs.
In the process consultation model, the concept of a learning
organization is second nature. The sharing of problem diagnosis
and resolution leads to shared vision. The expert consultant may
have a toolkit of best practice methods, but the process
consultant will ensure that the tools which are employed will
best fit the organization's needs and interests.
Orientation toward ongoing ability and learning.
The focus of process consultation is on solving the
problem. But in a world of constant change and development,
there will always be problems and particular solutions will
never be lasting. In the second generation form of process
consultation, there more be more emphasis on problem solving
ability rather than problem solving.
More involvement and participation.
It is a whole system world; processes that look at and
employ only one part of the organization are insufficient. The
new generation of process consultants will increasingly work
with internal consultants, teams, and all levels of the
organization. By building up facilitation and consultation
skills in the organization there will be development that
means it is able to meet new challenges and conditions, not just
those which initiated the consultancy.
Wider application of techniques and methods.
As everyone becomes involved in all phases of the
organization and everyone becomes responsible for the
organization's development, there will be a need for more people
to know and to use more principles and more practices in more
situations. For example, dialogue, a staple of the process
consultation effort, will be used not simply in special
situations or just for team-building purposes but will be a tool
of organization and not just of the consultant, resulting in dialogic
communication as part of the organizational culture.
Links to mission, values and vision.
If a 21st century organization does not know its mission,
if it does not have strong values, or if it does not have a
compelling vision, it will die. The 21st practice of process
consultation will increasingly make use of these variables in
analysis, diagnosis, and prescription for organizational
development. The goal of the consultancy will not simply be to
fix a situation but the creation of a better organization.