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Flawless Consulting
Peter Block
Pfeiffer & Company
San Francisco; Jossey-Bass, 1981
A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used
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The Promise
 The power balance in lateral relationships is always
open to ambiguity – and to negotiation.
 When we get resistance from a client, sometimes we
aren’t sure whether to push harder or to let go.
 This book is about managing this kind of ambiguity.
 It’s about methods and techniques, but the
consistent message is that each act that expresses
trust in ourselves and belief in the validity of our own
experience is always the right path to follow.
 Each act that is manipulative or filled with pretense is
always self-destructive.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Situation Overview
Apply to all
Situations
Assertiveness
Supportiveness
Confrontation
Listening
Group Process
Interpersonal Skills
Specific to
your discipline
Engineering
Project Mgmt
Marketing
Manufacturing
Personnel
Technical Skills
Requirements of
each phase
Contracting
Diagnosis
Feedback
Decision
Consulting Skills
The Main Event
Implementation = Internal Commitment
The Preliminary Events
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Beyond Substance
 You always operate at two levels. One level is the
substance – the cognitive, problem-
solving, rational, or explicit level.
 At another level, both you and the client are
generating and sensing your feeling about each
other.
 Acceptance or resistance.
 High or low tension.
 Support or confrontation.
 The second level is the affective side – a second
level of data that needs attention.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Affective Elements
 Responsibility.
 In most cases the client comes to you with the expectation
that once you are told what the problem is, you provide the
solution.
 Your goal is to act out the fact that it’s a 50-50 proposition.
 Feelings
 Feelings are diagnostic data.
 Is the client owning feelings – or just observing.
 Pay attention to your own feelings too.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Affective Elements
 Trust.
 The prevailing image is the consultant as expert and
someone to watch out for.
 Ask the client whether they trust your confidentiality, if they
trust you not to put them down or take things over.
 The more distrust is put into words, the more likely you are
to build trust.
 Your Own Needs.
 Consultants have a right to their own needs from a
relationship.
 It’s easy to fall into a service mentality.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Assumptions
 Problem solving requires valid data.
 Objective data
 Personal data.
 Effective decision making requires free and open
choice.
 Effective implementation requires internal
commitment.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Consultant’s Goals
1. To establish a collaborative relationship.
2. To solve problems so they stay solved.
3. To ensure attention is given to both the technical
business problem and the relationships.
4. To develop client commitment.
 We may cling to the fantasy that if our thinking is clear and
logical, our wording is eloquent, and our convictions are
solid, the strengths of our arguments will carry the day.
 The client and his or her colleagues will experience doubt
and dilemmas that block commitment.
 Confront the doubts at every stage.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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The core transaction of any consulting contract
is the transfer of expertise from the consultant
to the client. Whatever the expertise, it’s
the basis for the consultant’s being in business.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Roles
 Expert Role (what can happen)
 The manager elects to play an inactive role.
 Decisions on how to proceed are made by the consultant.
 Information needed is gathered by the consultant.
 Technical control rests with the consultant.
 Collaboration is not required.
 Two-way communication is limited.
 The consultant plans and implements the main events.
 The manager’s role is to judge and evaluate after the fact.
 The consultant’s goal is to solve the immediate problem.
 Big problem – “Between the lines” data
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Roles
 Pair-of-Hands (what can happen).
 The consultant takes a passive role.
 Decisions on how to proceed are made by the manager.
 The manager selects methods for analysis.
 Control rests with the manager, and
 Collaboration is not really necessary.
 Two-way communication is limited.
 The manager specifies procedures for the consultant to implement.
 The manager’s role is to judge and evaluate from a close distance.
 The consultant’s goal is to make the system more effective by the
application of specialized knowledge.
 Big problem – Diagnostic phase
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Roles
 Collaborative Role (what can happen).
 The consultant and manager work to become interdependent.
 Decision making is bilateral – mutual exchange.
 Data collection and analysis are joint efforts.
 Control issues become matters for discussion and negotiation.
 Collaboration is considered essential.
 Communication is two-way.
 Implementation responsibilities are determined by discussion and
agreement.
 The consultant’s goal is to solve problems so they stay solved.
 Big problem – Perception of foot dragging or
insubordination.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Situation Overview
Apply to all
Situations
Assertiveness
Supportiveness
Confrontation
Listening
Group Process
Interpersonal Skills
Specific to
your discipline
Engineering
Project Mgmt
Marketing
Manufacturing
Personnel
Technical Skills
Requirements of
each phase
Contracting
Diagnosis
Feedback
Decision
Consulting Skills
The Main Event
Implementation = Internal Commitment
The Preliminary Events
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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The Stages
 The stages leading up to implementation of a change
(the preliminary events) can be divided into 12
specific action steps.
 Each step provides an opportunity for you to involve
the client in the process without unnaturally
downplaying your specific expertise.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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The Steps
1. Defining the initial problem.
2. Deciding to proceed.
3. Selecting the dimensions to
be studied.
1. Ask the client to state what
the problem is. Add what
you think.
2. You also have some choice.
If you think it won’t succeed
in the way it is set up,
negotiate.
3. You may know best, but the
client has operating
experience with the problem
and the people. Ask what to
look for.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
(Shared Involvement)
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The Steps
4. Who will be involved?
5. Selecting the method.
6. Data collection.
7. Funneling the data.
8. Data summary.
9. Data analysis.
4. The client often expects the
consultant to do the whole
job. Involve a consultant-
client team.
5. The client has ideas about
how the data should be
collected. Ask.
6. Have the client do it with
you.
7. - 9. Urge the client to be
with you at certain points.
Involve the client in
analysis.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
(Shared Involvement)
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The Steps
10. Feedback of Results.
11. Making recommendations.
12. Decision on actions.
10. More of the same. Have the
client share in presenting
the data analysis in the
feedback meeting.
11. Developing workable
recommendations requires
the integration of your
knowledge and the client’s.
12. When someone in the
organization has made an
important contribution to a
project, they should be
included in the decision-
making meeting.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
(Shared Involvement)
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Being Authentic
 Authentic behavior with a client means you put into
words what you are experiencing with the client as
you work.
 This is the most powerful thing you can do to have
the leverage you are looking for, and to build client
commitment.
 Whenever you are with a client, ask yourself two
questions:
1. Am I being authentic with this person now?
2. Am I completing the business of the consulting phase I am
in?
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Completing the Requirements
 Contracting Phase:
 Negotiating wants.
 Coping with mixed motivation.
 Surfacing concern about exposure and loss of control.
 Triangular and rectangular contracting.
 Diagnosis Phase:
 Layers of analysis.
 Political climate.
 Resistance to sharing information.
 Interview as intervention.
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Completing the Requirements
 Feedback and Decision Phases:
 Funneling Data. Feedback should be actionable.
 Presenting personal and organizational data.
 Managing the feedback meeting.
 Focusing on the here and now.
 Don’t take it personally.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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The Contracting Phase
Flawless Consulting
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Contracting Skills
 To contract flawlessly is to:
1. Behave authentically, and
2. Complete the business of the contracting phase.
 The business of this phase is to negotiate
wants, cope with mixed motivation, surface
concerns about exposure and loss of control, and
clarify all parties to the contract.
 The contract is a social contract – simply an explicit
agreement of what the consultant and client expect
from each other, and how they are going to work
together.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Consulting Competencies
 Ask direct questions about who the client is and who
the less visible parties to the contract are.
 Elicit the client’s expectations of you.
 Clearly/simply state what you want from the client.
 Say no or postpone a project that in your judgment
has less than a 50/50 chance of success.
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Consulting Competencies
 Probe directly for the client’s concerns about
exposure, losing control, and vulnerability.
 Give direct verbal support to the client.
 When the contracting meeting is not going
well, discuss directly with the client why this
contracting meeting is not going well.
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Accountability
 The key to increasing the chances of success is to
keep focusing on how you work with clients.
 All we can really control is our own way of
working, our own behavior, our own strategies of
involving clients and reducing their reluctance.
 We are not accountable for what clients do in
managing or mismanaging their own operations.
 Try to have power with your clients rather than have
power over them.
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Consideration
 Consideration is the exchange of something of value
between the consultant and the client.
 The consultant needs something of value in return.
 The consulting contract should include:
 Operational partnership in the venture – influence.
 Access to people and information in the line organization.
 Time of people in the line organization.
 The opportunity to be innovative.
 You undermine your own leverage if you underplay
your own needs and wants at the beginning.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Contract Elements
1. The boundaries of your analysis.
2. Objectives of the project.
3. The kind of information you seek.
4. Your role in the project.
5. The product you will deliver.
6. What support and involvement you will need.
7. Time schedule.
8. Confidentiality.
9. Feedback to you, later.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Contract Elements
1. The boundaries of your analysis.
2. Objectives of the project.
 To solve a particular business problem.
 To teach the client how to solve the problem for themselves
next time.
 To improve how the organization manages its
resources, uses its systems, and works internally.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Contract Elements
1. The boundaries of your analysis.
2. Objectives of the project.
3. The kind of information you seek.
4. Your role in the project.
5. The product you will deliver.
6. What support and involvement you will need.
7. Time schedule.
8. Confidentiality.
9. Feedback to you, later.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Ground Rules (Gestalt)
1. The responsibility for every relationship is 50/50.
2. The contract should be freely entered.
3. You can’t get something for nothing. There must be
consideration from both sides.
4. All wants are legitimate. To want is a birthright.
You can’t say, “You shouldn’t want that.”
5. You can say no to what others want from you. Even
clients.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Ground Rules (Gestalt)
6. You don’t always get what you want. And you’ll
keep breathing. You will survive, you will still have
more clients in the future.
7. You can contract for behavior, you can’t contract for
the other person to change their feelings.
8. You can’t ask for something the other person
doesn’t have.
9. You can’t promise something you don’t have to
deliver.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Ground Rules (Gestalt)
10. You can’t contract with someone who is not in the
room, such as client’s bosses and subordinates. You
have to meet with them directly to know you have
an agreement with them.
11. Write down contracts when you can. Most are
broken out of neglect, not intent.
12. Social contracts are always renegotiable. Be grateful
if they are telling you and not just doing it.
13. Contracts require specific time deadlines or duration.
14. Good contracts require good faith and often
accidental good fortune.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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The Contracting Meeting
 The personal interaction between the consultant and
the client during the initial contracting meetings is an
accurate predictor of how the project will proceed.
 The critical skill in contracting is to be able to identify
and discuss process issues between the consultant
and the client as they occur.
 Try to have at least one meeting with each person
who is part of initiating your project.
 The meeting should be a model of how you work.
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Personal
acknowledgement
Communicate understanding
of the problem
Client wants
and offers
Consultant wants
and offers
Agreement
Ask for feedback on control
and commitment
Give support
Restate actions
Stuck on wants and offers
Think/recess
New wants and offers
Stuck again
Process how we are
handling this discussion
Exchange wants
and offers
If still stuck – terminate/
minimize investment
Navigating the
Contracting Meeting
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Selling Your Services
Personal
acknowledgement
Communicate understanding
of the problem
Client wants
and offers
Consultant wants
and offers
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Selling Your Services
 Don’t be any different when you are selling than
when you’re not selling.
 Don’t try to overcome the resistance with more
explanations and pleas for the good of the
organization.
 Do help the client express the reservations about you
and your products.
 Do admit you are there to sell and want them to buy.
 Do be authentic and follow the contracting sequence.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Selling Your Services
 Charisma and Presence are overrated.
 Selling is removing obstacles more than lighting fires.
 Have you identified a real need and whether you are
offering the right service?
 The meeting is a model of how you work.
 No contracting meeting should end without your
asking for feedback about how the manager feels
about the project, the meeting, and you.
 Leave 20 minutes to discuss these questions.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Constraints?
 You have two weeks to do a four week job
 The client says you shouldn’t talk to any other client
people.
 Nobody knows the real reason for this job and you
shouldn’t tell them.
 You shouldn’t upset anybody or open Pandora’s box.
 The project has a budget of $1.85.
 After this meeting the client won’t have any more
time to spend with you.
 What do you think?
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Low Motivation?
1. Assume the client is feeling coerced.
2. Suggest the client renegotiate the specs, the
problem, the need to do the project.
3. Contract with the client for a small-step project.
4. Contract for a way of doing the project that
minimizes the client’s exposure/loss of control.
5. Hope for the best.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Other Agonies
 Ceaseless Negotiation.
 Sustaining/renegotiating the agreement is ceaseless.
 If you let it slide…. Do it now, as soon as you sense the
client is treating you differently.
 The longer you wait, the more difficult it is.
 The Flirtatious Client.
 Be direct.
 Credentials.
 Don’t get into defending your credentials.
 “You are concerned about whether I can really help you?”
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Other Agonies
 Go-Betweens.
 Get to the manager.
 Defining the Problem to Death.
 35% of the meeting time, maximum.
 “Let’s stop talking about the problem for a moment.”
 Look at the client and start making statements.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Contracting Checklist
1. How would you rate:
 Balance of participation?
 Who initiated?
 Who had control?
2. What resistance or reservations did the client express?
 Which did you explore directly?
 Which did you not really explore?
3. What reservations do you have about the contract?
 Which did you put into words?
 Which did you express indirectly or not at all?
4. How did you give support to the client?
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
Client Consultant
100%_____50/50_____100%
100%_____50/50_____100%
100%_____50/50_____100%
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Contracting Checklist
5. How did the client’s concerns get expressed:
____ Silence? ____ Compliance? ____ Attack?
____ Questions? ____ Giving Answers? ____ Directly?
6. What facial and body language did you observe?
7. How would you rate the client’s motivation to proceed?
8. How would you rate your own motivation to proceed?
9. What didn’t you express to the client?
10. Review “Navigating the Contracting Meeting.”
 Did you skip any steps?
 Which ones?
11. What would you do differently next time?
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Understanding Resistance
 The hardest part of consulting is coping successfully
with resistance from the client.
 You get it no matter how reasonable and rational you
are.
 The key to understanding it is to realize that it is a
reaction to an emotional process taking place within
the client.
 It is not the reflection of the conversation you are
having with the client on an
objective, logical, rational level.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Understanding Resistance
 Resistance is a predictable, natural, emotional
reaction against the process of being helped, and
against the process of having to face up to difficult
organizational problems.
 Resistance is a necessary part of the learning
process, and wishing it to go away or not appear
actually poses an obstacle.
 For the client to learn something important, the
feelings of resistance need to be expressed directly
before they are genuinely ready to accept something
new.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Dealing with Resistance
 Be able to identify when resistance is taking place.
 View it as a natural process and a sign that you are
on target.
 Support the client in expressing the resistance
directly.
 Don’t take the expression of the resistance personally
or as an attack on your competence.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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The Faces of Resistance
 “Give me more detail,” (or flood you with detail).
 They ask for finer and finer bits of information.
 “Well it all started ten years ago on a Thursday…”
 Time
 “The timing is off,” or “We’re just too busy right now…”
 Impracticality
 “We live in the Realworld and have Realworld problems…”
 Attack
 Don’t withdraw or respond in kind.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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The Faces of Resistance
 Silence
 Silence never means consent. It means the reaction is being
blocked.
 “I’m not surprised…”
 No matter what.
 Intellectualizing
 Theory after theory about why things are as they are.
 Moralizing
 “Those people…” “They need to understand…”
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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The Faces of Resistance
 Compliance
 Complete compliance means something is missing.
 Methodology
 10 minutes is okay, but no more.
 Flight into health.
 The client no longer has “a problem.”
 Pressing for solutions.
 Does the client really want to know what the problem is?
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Resisting What?
 Clients look straight at you when they’re being
defensive. You are the one who has to answer the
questions and weather the storm.
 It’s natural to feel that the resistance is aimed at you.
 The resistance is not aimed at you.
 The fact is they are going to have to
(a) make a difficult choice or decision,
(b) take an unpopular action, or
(c) confront some reality that they have emotionally been
trying to avoid.
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Resisting What?
 Underlying concerns of the client are usually about
either control or vulnerability.
 Control is at the center of the value system of most
companies, and politics is the exercise of power.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
Control Vulnerability
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Resisting What?
 Sometimes it is not resistance.
 “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” (Freud)
 We can all become paranoid by interpreting every
line manager’s objections as resistance covering
some underlying anxieties.
 Sometimes the manager is just taking responsibility
as has the right to choose.
 If we think it’s the wrong choice, well that’s life.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Fears
I have too little info. They
won’t or can’t tell me what is
really happening.
Confusion. I have too much
info. I can’t sort it out or see
clearly.
Distance from the client.
Strangers. We will never get
close. I have to stay “in role.”
Alienation from the
organization and people around
me. I don’t belong here.
I can have no impact. No
reward for the effort.
Helplessness. Futility. I have
no power to change the
situation. I am a victim.
Client Fears Consultant Fears
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Wishes
Is included with all
information. Sees situation
with clarity.
Choices are clear. Mass of
information is simplified.
Can be authentic and intimate.
No “role” behavior.
Engages the situation. Feels a
part of it. Moves toward the
difficult reality and tension.
High impact. Clear payoff for
effort expended.
Has choices and the power to
act on the situation. Is an
actor, not a victim.
Client Potential Consultant Potential
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Being Dependent
 Asking for help can be seen (or felt) as a sign of
weakness.
 There is also the related feeling that “nothing can be
done to help – the problem is unsolvable.”
 When you encounter resistance, this should be
explored.
 When clients ask for help, they want both solutions
and confirmation that everything they have done has
been perfect.
 People entering therapy want confirmation, not
change.
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Being Dependent
 In the world of emotions, two opposite feelings can
exist at the same time. Clients may want to learn
and solve problems, but…
 At the same time they also want support and to be
told that they are handling that problem better than
anyone else in the country.
 Approach – Avoidance. The resistance is the
avoidance.
 Right behind the avoidance you will find the
approach.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Being Dependent
 When we help the resistance get expressed, it
diminishes.
 We are then working with a client who is ready and
willing to learn and be influenced.
 Flawlessly dealing with resistance is understanding
the two-headed nature of being in the client position
– and accepting it as okay.
 Ogres don’t exist, angels are one-sided images, and
heroic consultants lead to bad contracts.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Dealing with Resistance
 Encourage full expression of the concerns so that
they pass.
 Fighting resistance doesn’t work as well.
 Three Steps:
1. Identify in your own mind what form the resistance is
taking. What you see happening.
2. State in a neutral, nonpunishing way, the form the
resistance is taking. This is called “naming the resistance.”
3. Be quiet. Let the line manager respond to your statement.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Communication
Words 7%
Voice, Tone,
Rate, Inflection
Face and Body 55%
38%
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
Harris and Osborn, 1975
“Trust What You See.”
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The Diagnosis Phase
Flawless Consulting
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
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Diagnosis Concepts
 The concern of the consultant is how to get the client
to accept the diagnosis, more than how to develop
the diagnosis in the first place.
 To wait until the feedback meeting to worry about
client acceptance of recommendations is too late.
 The skill for the consultant is to address the
organizational element of each problem as rationally
as we address the technical part of each problem.
 The purpose of a diagnosis is to mobilize action on a
problem.
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Interested in all factors that impact the
problem at hand.
Interested in factors which are under the
control of the client and affect the problem.
Being comprehensive and complete in the
diagnosis is essential.
Completeness is not necessary. It can be
overwhelming at the point of deciding what to
do.
You can do research on your own. The
organization doesn’t have to be involved as
part of the research team.
The client’s involvement in the study is
important at each stage.
You try to eliminate bias and intuition of the
researcher. Heavy emphasis on objectivity
and hard data.
Use all the feelings and perceptions you have,
in addition to hard data. You are getting paid
for bias and intuition.
Essentially neutral toward whether the
organization approves of the outcomes of the
study.
Deeply concerned about the attitude of the
client toward the outcome of the study.
Research Approach Action Approach
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Presenting problem
Redefinition of
problem
Clear and simple picture
of what is happening
How the problem is
being managed
Technical – Business
problem
Recommendations
The Diagnosis Model
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
Client gives you a…
Your goal is to develop a…
And also…
You begin the…
Which leads to…
Including the…
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The Presenting Problem
 Each discipline or function is faced with both
technical and organizational problems.
 The presenting problem is almost always about
the technical/business problem.
 Organizational problems include how the
technical/business problem is being managed.
 The choice is whether you want to address how the
problem is being managed directly or indirectly.
 To consult flawlessly you need to begin to address
the organizational side of the problem as a regular
part of your consultation.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
gillis 65
Layers of Analysis Questions
 Top Layer
 What is the technical or business problem that you
are experiencing?
 Second Layer
 What are other individuals or groups in the
organization doing to either cause or maintain this
problem?
 Third Layer
 What is your role in the problem? What is there in
your approach or way of managing the situation
that might be contributing to the problem?
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
gillis 66
Interview Responses
1. Restatement – Put what is said into other words
and check understanding.
2. Statement of Your Experience – Give support
through identifying with the dilemma. Keep it short.
3. Open-ended Questions – Ask a question in a way
that does not program a certain answer, or allow a
yes or no answer.
4. Hypothesis about the Next Layer – Make
tentative guesses about how the person is feeling
about others involved, or their own role in the
problem.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
gillis 67
Beware “Leadership Style”
 Pinning too much responsibility on the leader can be
a defense. “If it weren’t for so-and-so….”
 The group always has a part in the melodrama.
 View the group as a self-maintaining system, sharing
the blame and the credit.
 It is important to view all problems as organizational
problems.
 What you’re really trying to do is change the norms
and methods the organization use to do business.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
gillis 68
The Feedback Phase
Flawless Consulting
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
gillis 69
Preparing for Feedback
 Resist being carried away by the struggle to develop
perfect recommendations.
 The consultant’s primary task is to present the
picture – this is 70% of the contribution you make.
 Trust it.
 Trust yourself to focus on what you feel is important.
 Focus on items that:
 The client has control over changing.
 Are clearly important to the organization
 There is some commitment to work on, somewhere.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
gillis 70
Do’s and Don’ts
 Don’t collude:
 By developing explanations that leave the solution outside of
the client’s control.
 By playing down the impact difficult relationships have on
the problem.
 Don’t project:
 By placing your own feelings onto another person.
 Don’t assume – the client has a right to all the information.
Make statements and then ask how the client feels.
 Do confirm:
 If you have confirming data, report it to the client.
 Give support even if it is not requested.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
gillis 71
Do’s and Don’ts
 Do confront:
 The data will indicate areas where the client should improve.
 Report them, even if they are painful, in as straight and
supportive way as possible.
 Do be assertive:
 Assertive behavior is stating directly what you want and how
you see things without putting down or infringing on the
rights of others.
 Don’t be aggressive:
 Don’t put down or negate the other person.
 If you can mentally add “you dummy,” it was aggressive.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
gillis 72
The Feedback Meeting
 To flawlessly manage a feedback meeting, you need
to attend to the business of this stage.
1. Funnel the data.
2. Present personal and organizational data.
3. Manage the Feedback Meeting.
4. Focus on the here and now of the meeting. Watch the
process of the meeting and deal directly with the resistance
as it occurs.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
gillis 73
The Feedback Meeting
 To flawlessly manage a feedback meeting, you need
to attend to the business of this stage.
5. Don’t take it personally. After 6pm you can take anything
personally, but during the day, no matter how many guns
are aimed at you, your task is to stay focused on the
client’s internal struggle to confront the reality that is being
resisted.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
gillis 74
The Feedback Meeting (First Half)
Percent of time MinutesRestate
the Original Contract
State the Agenda/
Structure of the Meeting
Present Diagnosis
Present Recommendations
Ask Client for Reactions
to the Data
5% 3
Ask Client for Reactions
to the Recommendations
15%
30%
9
18
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
gillis 75
The Feedback Meeting (First Half)
Percent of time Restate
the Original Contract
State the Agenda/
Structure of the Meeting
Present Diagnosis
Present Recommendations
Ask Client for Reactions
to the Data
5%
Ask Client for Reactions
to the Recommendations
15%
30%
What they wanted,
what you promised.
You control the
meeting.
Avoid distance and
perfection
Get them to adopt
as their own.
You want reservations
expressed.
Don’t get defensive.
But don’t cave.
gillis 76
The Feedback Meeting (Second Half)
Percent of time Minutes
In the Middle of the Meeting:
Ask the Client if They are
Getting What They Want
Decision to Proceed
Give Support
Test Client Concerns About
Control and Commitment
10% 6
Ask Yourself if You Got All
That You wanted
30%
10%
18
6
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
gillis 77
The Feedback Meeting (Second Half)
Percent of time
In the Middle of the Meeting:
Ask the Client if They are
Getting What They Want
Decision to Proceed
Give Support
Test Client Concerns About
Control and Commitment
10%
Ask Yourself if You Got All
That You wanted
30%
10%
Power with enough
time (and guts).
So you can
participate in the
decision.
Uneasy?
Now is the time.
The burden is on
your client.
gillis 78
Group Feedback Issues
 There is always going to be some segment that is
going to feel anxiety and resist.
 They will ask the aggressive questions.
 Do not over-invest in the resistant people.
 Two good faith responses is enough.
 Beware quick compliance.
 Moderate tension is useful and good.
 Resistance doesn’t die when the decision to proceed
is made.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
gillis 79
The Benediction
 Your real task as a consultant is to be constantly
noticing what you are experiencing and to behave as
authentically as possible.
 We all want to have a feeling of control.
 To gain this control is to give it up.
 Being authentic is to reduce the amount you
control, and to censor your own experience.
 To censor your own experience is to give other
people power over you – you are letting their
reactions determine how you function.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
gillis 80
The Benediction
 The way to have leverage is not to give it away.
 The way to avoid giving leverage away is to reduce
the extent you restrain yourself from acting on your
own instincts and perceptions.
 Acting without restraint is being authentic.
 Being authentic and attending to the task
requirements of each phase is consulting flawlessly.
 And that’s all there is to it.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
Thank You!
gillis 81
Veritas

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Flawless consulting 08292013

  • 1. gillis Flawless Consulting Peter Block Pfeiffer & Company San Francisco; Jossey-Bass, 1981 A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used
  • 2. gillis 2 The Promise  The power balance in lateral relationships is always open to ambiguity – and to negotiation.  When we get resistance from a client, sometimes we aren’t sure whether to push harder or to let go.  This book is about managing this kind of ambiguity.  It’s about methods and techniques, but the consistent message is that each act that expresses trust in ourselves and belief in the validity of our own experience is always the right path to follow.  Each act that is manipulative or filled with pretense is always self-destructive. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 3. gillis 3 Situation Overview Apply to all Situations Assertiveness Supportiveness Confrontation Listening Group Process Interpersonal Skills Specific to your discipline Engineering Project Mgmt Marketing Manufacturing Personnel Technical Skills Requirements of each phase Contracting Diagnosis Feedback Decision Consulting Skills The Main Event Implementation = Internal Commitment The Preliminary Events Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 4. gillis 4 Beyond Substance  You always operate at two levels. One level is the substance – the cognitive, problem- solving, rational, or explicit level.  At another level, both you and the client are generating and sensing your feeling about each other.  Acceptance or resistance.  High or low tension.  Support or confrontation.  The second level is the affective side – a second level of data that needs attention. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 5. gillis 5 Affective Elements  Responsibility.  In most cases the client comes to you with the expectation that once you are told what the problem is, you provide the solution.  Your goal is to act out the fact that it’s a 50-50 proposition.  Feelings  Feelings are diagnostic data.  Is the client owning feelings – or just observing.  Pay attention to your own feelings too. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 6. gillis 6 Affective Elements  Trust.  The prevailing image is the consultant as expert and someone to watch out for.  Ask the client whether they trust your confidentiality, if they trust you not to put them down or take things over.  The more distrust is put into words, the more likely you are to build trust.  Your Own Needs.  Consultants have a right to their own needs from a relationship.  It’s easy to fall into a service mentality. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 7. gillis 7 Assumptions  Problem solving requires valid data.  Objective data  Personal data.  Effective decision making requires free and open choice.  Effective implementation requires internal commitment. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 8. gillis 8 Consultant’s Goals 1. To establish a collaborative relationship. 2. To solve problems so they stay solved. 3. To ensure attention is given to both the technical business problem and the relationships. 4. To develop client commitment.  We may cling to the fantasy that if our thinking is clear and logical, our wording is eloquent, and our convictions are solid, the strengths of our arguments will carry the day.  The client and his or her colleagues will experience doubt and dilemmas that block commitment.  Confront the doubts at every stage. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 9. gillis 9 The core transaction of any consulting contract is the transfer of expertise from the consultant to the client. Whatever the expertise, it’s the basis for the consultant’s being in business. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 10. gillis 10 Roles  Expert Role (what can happen)  The manager elects to play an inactive role.  Decisions on how to proceed are made by the consultant.  Information needed is gathered by the consultant.  Technical control rests with the consultant.  Collaboration is not required.  Two-way communication is limited.  The consultant plans and implements the main events.  The manager’s role is to judge and evaluate after the fact.  The consultant’s goal is to solve the immediate problem.  Big problem – “Between the lines” data Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 11. gillis 11 Roles  Pair-of-Hands (what can happen).  The consultant takes a passive role.  Decisions on how to proceed are made by the manager.  The manager selects methods for analysis.  Control rests with the manager, and  Collaboration is not really necessary.  Two-way communication is limited.  The manager specifies procedures for the consultant to implement.  The manager’s role is to judge and evaluate from a close distance.  The consultant’s goal is to make the system more effective by the application of specialized knowledge.  Big problem – Diagnostic phase Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 12. gillis 12 Roles  Collaborative Role (what can happen).  The consultant and manager work to become interdependent.  Decision making is bilateral – mutual exchange.  Data collection and analysis are joint efforts.  Control issues become matters for discussion and negotiation.  Collaboration is considered essential.  Communication is two-way.  Implementation responsibilities are determined by discussion and agreement.  The consultant’s goal is to solve problems so they stay solved.  Big problem – Perception of foot dragging or insubordination. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 13. gillis 13 Situation Overview Apply to all Situations Assertiveness Supportiveness Confrontation Listening Group Process Interpersonal Skills Specific to your discipline Engineering Project Mgmt Marketing Manufacturing Personnel Technical Skills Requirements of each phase Contracting Diagnosis Feedback Decision Consulting Skills The Main Event Implementation = Internal Commitment The Preliminary Events Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 14. gillis 14 The Stages  The stages leading up to implementation of a change (the preliminary events) can be divided into 12 specific action steps.  Each step provides an opportunity for you to involve the client in the process without unnaturally downplaying your specific expertise. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 15. gillis 15 The Steps 1. Defining the initial problem. 2. Deciding to proceed. 3. Selecting the dimensions to be studied. 1. Ask the client to state what the problem is. Add what you think. 2. You also have some choice. If you think it won’t succeed in the way it is set up, negotiate. 3. You may know best, but the client has operating experience with the problem and the people. Ask what to look for. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting (Shared Involvement)
  • 16. gillis 16 The Steps 4. Who will be involved? 5. Selecting the method. 6. Data collection. 7. Funneling the data. 8. Data summary. 9. Data analysis. 4. The client often expects the consultant to do the whole job. Involve a consultant- client team. 5. The client has ideas about how the data should be collected. Ask. 6. Have the client do it with you. 7. - 9. Urge the client to be with you at certain points. Involve the client in analysis. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting (Shared Involvement)
  • 17. gillis 17 The Steps 10. Feedback of Results. 11. Making recommendations. 12. Decision on actions. 10. More of the same. Have the client share in presenting the data analysis in the feedback meeting. 11. Developing workable recommendations requires the integration of your knowledge and the client’s. 12. When someone in the organization has made an important contribution to a project, they should be included in the decision- making meeting. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting (Shared Involvement)
  • 18. gillis 18 Being Authentic  Authentic behavior with a client means you put into words what you are experiencing with the client as you work.  This is the most powerful thing you can do to have the leverage you are looking for, and to build client commitment.  Whenever you are with a client, ask yourself two questions: 1. Am I being authentic with this person now? 2. Am I completing the business of the consulting phase I am in? Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 19. gillis 19 Completing the Requirements  Contracting Phase:  Negotiating wants.  Coping with mixed motivation.  Surfacing concern about exposure and loss of control.  Triangular and rectangular contracting.  Diagnosis Phase:  Layers of analysis.  Political climate.  Resistance to sharing information.  Interview as intervention. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 20. gillis 20 Completing the Requirements  Feedback and Decision Phases:  Funneling Data. Feedback should be actionable.  Presenting personal and organizational data.  Managing the feedback meeting.  Focusing on the here and now.  Don’t take it personally. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 21. gillis 21 The Contracting Phase Flawless Consulting Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 22. gillis 22 Contracting Skills  To contract flawlessly is to: 1. Behave authentically, and 2. Complete the business of the contracting phase.  The business of this phase is to negotiate wants, cope with mixed motivation, surface concerns about exposure and loss of control, and clarify all parties to the contract.  The contract is a social contract – simply an explicit agreement of what the consultant and client expect from each other, and how they are going to work together. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 23. gillis 23 Consulting Competencies  Ask direct questions about who the client is and who the less visible parties to the contract are.  Elicit the client’s expectations of you.  Clearly/simply state what you want from the client.  Say no or postpone a project that in your judgment has less than a 50/50 chance of success. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 24. gillis 24 Consulting Competencies  Probe directly for the client’s concerns about exposure, losing control, and vulnerability.  Give direct verbal support to the client.  When the contracting meeting is not going well, discuss directly with the client why this contracting meeting is not going well. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 25. gillis 25 Accountability  The key to increasing the chances of success is to keep focusing on how you work with clients.  All we can really control is our own way of working, our own behavior, our own strategies of involving clients and reducing their reluctance.  We are not accountable for what clients do in managing or mismanaging their own operations.  Try to have power with your clients rather than have power over them. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 26. gillis 26 Consideration  Consideration is the exchange of something of value between the consultant and the client.  The consultant needs something of value in return.  The consulting contract should include:  Operational partnership in the venture – influence.  Access to people and information in the line organization.  Time of people in the line organization.  The opportunity to be innovative.  You undermine your own leverage if you underplay your own needs and wants at the beginning. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 27. gillis 27 Contract Elements 1. The boundaries of your analysis. 2. Objectives of the project. 3. The kind of information you seek. 4. Your role in the project. 5. The product you will deliver. 6. What support and involvement you will need. 7. Time schedule. 8. Confidentiality. 9. Feedback to you, later. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 28. gillis 28 Contract Elements 1. The boundaries of your analysis. 2. Objectives of the project.  To solve a particular business problem.  To teach the client how to solve the problem for themselves next time.  To improve how the organization manages its resources, uses its systems, and works internally. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 29. gillis 29 Contract Elements 1. The boundaries of your analysis. 2. Objectives of the project. 3. The kind of information you seek. 4. Your role in the project. 5. The product you will deliver. 6. What support and involvement you will need. 7. Time schedule. 8. Confidentiality. 9. Feedback to you, later. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 30. gillis 30 Ground Rules (Gestalt) 1. The responsibility for every relationship is 50/50. 2. The contract should be freely entered. 3. You can’t get something for nothing. There must be consideration from both sides. 4. All wants are legitimate. To want is a birthright. You can’t say, “You shouldn’t want that.” 5. You can say no to what others want from you. Even clients. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 31. gillis 31 Ground Rules (Gestalt) 6. You don’t always get what you want. And you’ll keep breathing. You will survive, you will still have more clients in the future. 7. You can contract for behavior, you can’t contract for the other person to change their feelings. 8. You can’t ask for something the other person doesn’t have. 9. You can’t promise something you don’t have to deliver. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 32. gillis 32 Ground Rules (Gestalt) 10. You can’t contract with someone who is not in the room, such as client’s bosses and subordinates. You have to meet with them directly to know you have an agreement with them. 11. Write down contracts when you can. Most are broken out of neglect, not intent. 12. Social contracts are always renegotiable. Be grateful if they are telling you and not just doing it. 13. Contracts require specific time deadlines or duration. 14. Good contracts require good faith and often accidental good fortune. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 33. gillis 33 The Contracting Meeting  The personal interaction between the consultant and the client during the initial contracting meetings is an accurate predictor of how the project will proceed.  The critical skill in contracting is to be able to identify and discuss process issues between the consultant and the client as they occur.  Try to have at least one meeting with each person who is part of initiating your project.  The meeting should be a model of how you work. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 34. gillis 34 Personal acknowledgement Communicate understanding of the problem Client wants and offers Consultant wants and offers Agreement Ask for feedback on control and commitment Give support Restate actions Stuck on wants and offers Think/recess New wants and offers Stuck again Process how we are handling this discussion Exchange wants and offers If still stuck – terminate/ minimize investment Navigating the Contracting Meeting Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 35. gillis 35 Selling Your Services Personal acknowledgement Communicate understanding of the problem Client wants and offers Consultant wants and offers Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 36. gillis 36 Selling Your Services  Don’t be any different when you are selling than when you’re not selling.  Don’t try to overcome the resistance with more explanations and pleas for the good of the organization.  Do help the client express the reservations about you and your products.  Do admit you are there to sell and want them to buy.  Do be authentic and follow the contracting sequence. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 37. gillis 37 Selling Your Services  Charisma and Presence are overrated.  Selling is removing obstacles more than lighting fires.  Have you identified a real need and whether you are offering the right service?  The meeting is a model of how you work.  No contracting meeting should end without your asking for feedback about how the manager feels about the project, the meeting, and you.  Leave 20 minutes to discuss these questions. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 38. gillis 38 Constraints?  You have two weeks to do a four week job  The client says you shouldn’t talk to any other client people.  Nobody knows the real reason for this job and you shouldn’t tell them.  You shouldn’t upset anybody or open Pandora’s box.  The project has a budget of $1.85.  After this meeting the client won’t have any more time to spend with you.  What do you think? Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 39. gillis 39 Low Motivation? 1. Assume the client is feeling coerced. 2. Suggest the client renegotiate the specs, the problem, the need to do the project. 3. Contract with the client for a small-step project. 4. Contract for a way of doing the project that minimizes the client’s exposure/loss of control. 5. Hope for the best. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 40. gillis 40 Other Agonies  Ceaseless Negotiation.  Sustaining/renegotiating the agreement is ceaseless.  If you let it slide…. Do it now, as soon as you sense the client is treating you differently.  The longer you wait, the more difficult it is.  The Flirtatious Client.  Be direct.  Credentials.  Don’t get into defending your credentials.  “You are concerned about whether I can really help you?” Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 41. gillis 41 Other Agonies  Go-Betweens.  Get to the manager.  Defining the Problem to Death.  35% of the meeting time, maximum.  “Let’s stop talking about the problem for a moment.”  Look at the client and start making statements. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 42. gillis 42 Contracting Checklist 1. How would you rate:  Balance of participation?  Who initiated?  Who had control? 2. What resistance or reservations did the client express?  Which did you explore directly?  Which did you not really explore? 3. What reservations do you have about the contract?  Which did you put into words?  Which did you express indirectly or not at all? 4. How did you give support to the client? Peter Block, Flawless Consulting Client Consultant 100%_____50/50_____100% 100%_____50/50_____100% 100%_____50/50_____100%
  • 43. gillis 43 Contracting Checklist 5. How did the client’s concerns get expressed: ____ Silence? ____ Compliance? ____ Attack? ____ Questions? ____ Giving Answers? ____ Directly? 6. What facial and body language did you observe? 7. How would you rate the client’s motivation to proceed? 8. How would you rate your own motivation to proceed? 9. What didn’t you express to the client? 10. Review “Navigating the Contracting Meeting.”  Did you skip any steps?  Which ones? 11. What would you do differently next time? Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 44. gillis 44 Understanding Resistance  The hardest part of consulting is coping successfully with resistance from the client.  You get it no matter how reasonable and rational you are.  The key to understanding it is to realize that it is a reaction to an emotional process taking place within the client.  It is not the reflection of the conversation you are having with the client on an objective, logical, rational level. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 45. gillis 45 Understanding Resistance  Resistance is a predictable, natural, emotional reaction against the process of being helped, and against the process of having to face up to difficult organizational problems.  Resistance is a necessary part of the learning process, and wishing it to go away or not appear actually poses an obstacle.  For the client to learn something important, the feelings of resistance need to be expressed directly before they are genuinely ready to accept something new. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 46. gillis 46 Dealing with Resistance  Be able to identify when resistance is taking place.  View it as a natural process and a sign that you are on target.  Support the client in expressing the resistance directly.  Don’t take the expression of the resistance personally or as an attack on your competence. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 47. gillis 47 The Faces of Resistance  “Give me more detail,” (or flood you with detail).  They ask for finer and finer bits of information.  “Well it all started ten years ago on a Thursday…”  Time  “The timing is off,” or “We’re just too busy right now…”  Impracticality  “We live in the Realworld and have Realworld problems…”  Attack  Don’t withdraw or respond in kind. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 48. gillis 48 The Faces of Resistance  Silence  Silence never means consent. It means the reaction is being blocked.  “I’m not surprised…”  No matter what.  Intellectualizing  Theory after theory about why things are as they are.  Moralizing  “Those people…” “They need to understand…” Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 49. gillis 49 The Faces of Resistance  Compliance  Complete compliance means something is missing.  Methodology  10 minutes is okay, but no more.  Flight into health.  The client no longer has “a problem.”  Pressing for solutions.  Does the client really want to know what the problem is? Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 50. gillis 50 Resisting What?  Clients look straight at you when they’re being defensive. You are the one who has to answer the questions and weather the storm.  It’s natural to feel that the resistance is aimed at you.  The resistance is not aimed at you.  The fact is they are going to have to (a) make a difficult choice or decision, (b) take an unpopular action, or (c) confront some reality that they have emotionally been trying to avoid. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 51. gillis 51 Resisting What?  Underlying concerns of the client are usually about either control or vulnerability.  Control is at the center of the value system of most companies, and politics is the exercise of power. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting Control Vulnerability
  • 52. gillis 52 Resisting What?  Sometimes it is not resistance.  “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” (Freud)  We can all become paranoid by interpreting every line manager’s objections as resistance covering some underlying anxieties.  Sometimes the manager is just taking responsibility as has the right to choose.  If we think it’s the wrong choice, well that’s life. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 53. gillis 53 Fears I have too little info. They won’t or can’t tell me what is really happening. Confusion. I have too much info. I can’t sort it out or see clearly. Distance from the client. Strangers. We will never get close. I have to stay “in role.” Alienation from the organization and people around me. I don’t belong here. I can have no impact. No reward for the effort. Helplessness. Futility. I have no power to change the situation. I am a victim. Client Fears Consultant Fears Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 54. gillis 54 Wishes Is included with all information. Sees situation with clarity. Choices are clear. Mass of information is simplified. Can be authentic and intimate. No “role” behavior. Engages the situation. Feels a part of it. Moves toward the difficult reality and tension. High impact. Clear payoff for effort expended. Has choices and the power to act on the situation. Is an actor, not a victim. Client Potential Consultant Potential Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 55. gillis 55 Being Dependent  Asking for help can be seen (or felt) as a sign of weakness.  There is also the related feeling that “nothing can be done to help – the problem is unsolvable.”  When you encounter resistance, this should be explored.  When clients ask for help, they want both solutions and confirmation that everything they have done has been perfect.  People entering therapy want confirmation, not change. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 56. gillis 56 Being Dependent  In the world of emotions, two opposite feelings can exist at the same time. Clients may want to learn and solve problems, but…  At the same time they also want support and to be told that they are handling that problem better than anyone else in the country.  Approach – Avoidance. The resistance is the avoidance.  Right behind the avoidance you will find the approach. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 57. gillis 57 Being Dependent  When we help the resistance get expressed, it diminishes.  We are then working with a client who is ready and willing to learn and be influenced.  Flawlessly dealing with resistance is understanding the two-headed nature of being in the client position – and accepting it as okay.  Ogres don’t exist, angels are one-sided images, and heroic consultants lead to bad contracts. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 58. gillis 58 Dealing with Resistance  Encourage full expression of the concerns so that they pass.  Fighting resistance doesn’t work as well.  Three Steps: 1. Identify in your own mind what form the resistance is taking. What you see happening. 2. State in a neutral, nonpunishing way, the form the resistance is taking. This is called “naming the resistance.” 3. Be quiet. Let the line manager respond to your statement. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 59. gillis 59 Communication Words 7% Voice, Tone, Rate, Inflection Face and Body 55% 38% Peter Block, Flawless Consulting Harris and Osborn, 1975 “Trust What You See.”
  • 60. gillis 60 The Diagnosis Phase Flawless Consulting Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 61. gillis 61 Diagnosis Concepts  The concern of the consultant is how to get the client to accept the diagnosis, more than how to develop the diagnosis in the first place.  To wait until the feedback meeting to worry about client acceptance of recommendations is too late.  The skill for the consultant is to address the organizational element of each problem as rationally as we address the technical part of each problem.  The purpose of a diagnosis is to mobilize action on a problem. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 62. gillis 62 Interested in all factors that impact the problem at hand. Interested in factors which are under the control of the client and affect the problem. Being comprehensive and complete in the diagnosis is essential. Completeness is not necessary. It can be overwhelming at the point of deciding what to do. You can do research on your own. The organization doesn’t have to be involved as part of the research team. The client’s involvement in the study is important at each stage. You try to eliminate bias and intuition of the researcher. Heavy emphasis on objectivity and hard data. Use all the feelings and perceptions you have, in addition to hard data. You are getting paid for bias and intuition. Essentially neutral toward whether the organization approves of the outcomes of the study. Deeply concerned about the attitude of the client toward the outcome of the study. Research Approach Action Approach Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 63. gillis 63 Presenting problem Redefinition of problem Clear and simple picture of what is happening How the problem is being managed Technical – Business problem Recommendations The Diagnosis Model Peter Block, Flawless Consulting Client gives you a… Your goal is to develop a… And also… You begin the… Which leads to… Including the…
  • 64. gillis 64 The Presenting Problem  Each discipline or function is faced with both technical and organizational problems.  The presenting problem is almost always about the technical/business problem.  Organizational problems include how the technical/business problem is being managed.  The choice is whether you want to address how the problem is being managed directly or indirectly.  To consult flawlessly you need to begin to address the organizational side of the problem as a regular part of your consultation. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 65. gillis 65 Layers of Analysis Questions  Top Layer  What is the technical or business problem that you are experiencing?  Second Layer  What are other individuals or groups in the organization doing to either cause or maintain this problem?  Third Layer  What is your role in the problem? What is there in your approach or way of managing the situation that might be contributing to the problem? Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 66. gillis 66 Interview Responses 1. Restatement – Put what is said into other words and check understanding. 2. Statement of Your Experience – Give support through identifying with the dilemma. Keep it short. 3. Open-ended Questions – Ask a question in a way that does not program a certain answer, or allow a yes or no answer. 4. Hypothesis about the Next Layer – Make tentative guesses about how the person is feeling about others involved, or their own role in the problem. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 67. gillis 67 Beware “Leadership Style”  Pinning too much responsibility on the leader can be a defense. “If it weren’t for so-and-so….”  The group always has a part in the melodrama.  View the group as a self-maintaining system, sharing the blame and the credit.  It is important to view all problems as organizational problems.  What you’re really trying to do is change the norms and methods the organization use to do business. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 68. gillis 68 The Feedback Phase Flawless Consulting Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 69. gillis 69 Preparing for Feedback  Resist being carried away by the struggle to develop perfect recommendations.  The consultant’s primary task is to present the picture – this is 70% of the contribution you make.  Trust it.  Trust yourself to focus on what you feel is important.  Focus on items that:  The client has control over changing.  Are clearly important to the organization  There is some commitment to work on, somewhere. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 70. gillis 70 Do’s and Don’ts  Don’t collude:  By developing explanations that leave the solution outside of the client’s control.  By playing down the impact difficult relationships have on the problem.  Don’t project:  By placing your own feelings onto another person.  Don’t assume – the client has a right to all the information. Make statements and then ask how the client feels.  Do confirm:  If you have confirming data, report it to the client.  Give support even if it is not requested. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 71. gillis 71 Do’s and Don’ts  Do confront:  The data will indicate areas where the client should improve.  Report them, even if they are painful, in as straight and supportive way as possible.  Do be assertive:  Assertive behavior is stating directly what you want and how you see things without putting down or infringing on the rights of others.  Don’t be aggressive:  Don’t put down or negate the other person.  If you can mentally add “you dummy,” it was aggressive. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 72. gillis 72 The Feedback Meeting  To flawlessly manage a feedback meeting, you need to attend to the business of this stage. 1. Funnel the data. 2. Present personal and organizational data. 3. Manage the Feedback Meeting. 4. Focus on the here and now of the meeting. Watch the process of the meeting and deal directly with the resistance as it occurs. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 73. gillis 73 The Feedback Meeting  To flawlessly manage a feedback meeting, you need to attend to the business of this stage. 5. Don’t take it personally. After 6pm you can take anything personally, but during the day, no matter how many guns are aimed at you, your task is to stay focused on the client’s internal struggle to confront the reality that is being resisted. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 74. gillis 74 The Feedback Meeting (First Half) Percent of time MinutesRestate the Original Contract State the Agenda/ Structure of the Meeting Present Diagnosis Present Recommendations Ask Client for Reactions to the Data 5% 3 Ask Client for Reactions to the Recommendations 15% 30% 9 18 Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 75. gillis 75 The Feedback Meeting (First Half) Percent of time Restate the Original Contract State the Agenda/ Structure of the Meeting Present Diagnosis Present Recommendations Ask Client for Reactions to the Data 5% Ask Client for Reactions to the Recommendations 15% 30% What they wanted, what you promised. You control the meeting. Avoid distance and perfection Get them to adopt as their own. You want reservations expressed. Don’t get defensive. But don’t cave.
  • 76. gillis 76 The Feedback Meeting (Second Half) Percent of time Minutes In the Middle of the Meeting: Ask the Client if They are Getting What They Want Decision to Proceed Give Support Test Client Concerns About Control and Commitment 10% 6 Ask Yourself if You Got All That You wanted 30% 10% 18 6 Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 77. gillis 77 The Feedback Meeting (Second Half) Percent of time In the Middle of the Meeting: Ask the Client if They are Getting What They Want Decision to Proceed Give Support Test Client Concerns About Control and Commitment 10% Ask Yourself if You Got All That You wanted 30% 10% Power with enough time (and guts). So you can participate in the decision. Uneasy? Now is the time. The burden is on your client.
  • 78. gillis 78 Group Feedback Issues  There is always going to be some segment that is going to feel anxiety and resist.  They will ask the aggressive questions.  Do not over-invest in the resistant people.  Two good faith responses is enough.  Beware quick compliance.  Moderate tension is useful and good.  Resistance doesn’t die when the decision to proceed is made. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 79. gillis 79 The Benediction  Your real task as a consultant is to be constantly noticing what you are experiencing and to behave as authentically as possible.  We all want to have a feeling of control.  To gain this control is to give it up.  Being authentic is to reduce the amount you control, and to censor your own experience.  To censor your own experience is to give other people power over you – you are letting their reactions determine how you function. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
  • 80. gillis 80 The Benediction  The way to have leverage is not to give it away.  The way to avoid giving leverage away is to reduce the extent you restrain yourself from acting on your own instincts and perceptions.  Acting without restraint is being authentic.  Being authentic and attending to the task requirements of each phase is consulting flawlessly.  And that’s all there is to it. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting Thank You!