Over the last couple of weeks we have been unfolding the beginning layers of the “onion”. In defining process consultation (the helping relationship) we have discussed the many steps involved. Namely, that of being authentic, active inquiry and listening to the many different roles that consultants may take (expert, pair-of-hands, collaborative) during the phases in the business of consulting. The project we completed in class on Who is the Client was a good exercise in helping me classify some of the interactions that I encounter on a day-to-day basis with faculty, staff and students. Understanding and being able to identify the differences between the contact, primary, intermediate, unwitting, and ultimate client(s) will be useful as I engage in process consultation.
In addition to being able to identify the client, equally important, is the need to know where the responsibility of solving an issue or problem lies. After completing the exercise on Assessing the Balance of Responsibility, I have a better understanding of who should be responsible for what in the project. Block makes it clear by stating that in order to take full advantage of using client involvement and increase your chances of success, the relationship must be 50/50 (consultant/client). This was interesting to learn because I always assumed that the consultant was the one who provided the expertise, and actually solved the problem. It was relieving to find out that in order for the project to be successful that the relationship must be a sharing relationship.
While all of the chapters thus far have been very helpful in giving me a clearer picture of what consulting really involves, I always get a better understanding in learning a new concept or skill when I am able to practice what has been preached. I feel confident that our assigned consulting project will provide me the opportunity to do just that.
Thus, as we move into the contracting phase of consulting, I look forward to Tim and Jonathan’s facilitation on Navigating the Contracting Meeting. I’m sure we will all gain useful insight and tips on the proper sequence in creating a good contract.