Engage in Active Inquiry to Keep the Client in the “Driver’s Seat”
Use active inquiry
Remember the psychological dynamics involved in helping
Distinguish between three levels of inquiry:
Pure inquiry concentrates on the client’s telling of her story
Exploratory diagnostic inquiry brings in the client’s feelings, reactions, and reasons in response to the consultant’s questions about how, what, and why
Confrontative inquiry engages the client in considering the consultant’s ideas about how, what, and why
Reactions of Consultant to Client
Use of power and authority
Accept, overreact to client’s dependence on you
Meet defensiveness with more pressure, rational discussion
Resist entering the relationship, esp. when it means giving up the “One Up” position.
Schein’s Basic Principles 1-6
Always try to be helpful
Always stay in touch with current reality
Access your ignorance
Everything you do is an intervention
It is the client who owns the problem and the solution
Go with the flow
Schein’s Basic Principles 7 -10
7 . Timing is crucial.
Be constructively opportunistic with confrontative interventions.
Everything is data; errors are inevitable – learn from them.
When in doubt, share the problem.
Questions to Ponder
How do you reconcile "going with the flow" (Schein) with following the consulting stages linearly (Block)? … Is it necessary to follow Block's stages literally, or is there a chance that they can be mixed up or be iterative?
What do you think?
Thoughts about the initial client meeting…
Explore reason for working with a consultant
Listen carefully and ask questions for clarification – but be careful not to cause defensiveness.
Move the client from “what’s wrong” to “what would you like to see as a result?”
Explore the readiness for change.
Thoughts about the initial client meeting (cont.)
Explore potential for working together.
Convey information about what you do and how you work.
Build trust and confidence.
Learn about the organization from their perspective. (You should have already researched the company before 1st meeting.)
(Lippitts; Rothwell, et al.)
Some contract items…
The boundaries of your analysis
Objectives of the project
The kind of information you will look for
Your role in the project – how you want to work with the client
Some contract items (cont.)
The product you will deliver
Support and involvement you need from the client
Feedback to you later
Questions Clients Ask
What are the deliverables? What will the final product look like?
What are the critical milestones? How will progress be monitored?
How can you help me with the kick-off of this project?
How will we communicate?
How many employees will need to be involved?
Cope with mixed motivation
Surface concerns about exposure and loss of control
Clarify all parties to the contract
Client Types Consultant Contact Client Makes initial contact with consultant Primary Client Individual /Group who works with the consultant to define the problem (pays the bill) Intermediate Clients Others involved in providing data on the problem Ultimate Clients Organization, community, society or stakeholders Unwitting Clients People affected by outcomes of the consulting intervention but are unaware of it Involved non-clients Can actively undermine the consultants’ efforts
Questions to Get Started
What do you want to discuss?
Who is the client for this project ?
Who else will be at the meeting?
What are their roles?
How much time will we have?
Are you are ready to begin?
Are we going to discuss it further?
Do we do anything at all?
Who is the Client Exercise 4.1
Work in pairs
Exchange scenarios and give each person a chance to read yours
Consider situations in which you found yourself providing help to others
Reconstruct the case in terms of client roles
Check your understanding of these with your partner in this class discussion
Review the degree to which you took into account the needs of unwitting or ultimate clients / How did this influence your behavior?
Draw some conclusions from your shared experiences
Beich, E. (1999). The business of consulting: The basics and beyond. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Rothwell, W.J., Sullivan, R., & McLean, G.N. (1995). Practicing organization development: A guide for consultants. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.