Posts Tagged 'respect'

Reflection, Dialog, and Supportive Environment Key to Adult and Organizational Learning

A digital story reflecting on my experience of the VCU MEd Adult Learning Program 



Philosophy of Practice – Consulting

Consulting Skills – Philosophy of Practice

What can I say about my philosophy of practice for consulting? Hmmm… There is really so much I think that I’ve learned about consulting this semester with the study of Block and Schein, class discussion, and our projects themselves. But what can I say about the values and assumptions I now hold about consulting?

One of the first and perhaps simplest things is that a consultant-client relationship is a helping relationship. I may have expert knowledge, but in all likelihood I do not know the client’s system and culture to fully asses the situation. I will need the insight and help of the client to define the  problem and help me discover the situation and collect the data.  I’m also not so interested, for the most part, in becoming just an extra pair of hands to get something done for someone else that they didn’t want to do. Really being of help is not such an easy thing to do. So much of my own biases, beliefs, and assumptions can sneak into a situation unsuspectingly and skew the data, or analysis, or maybe the recommendation.

collaboration_babesIn this regard, another thing that strikes me is that it is the client who owns the problem and the solution. And as a result of this, I have to figure out a way to help work with them so the problem gets solved, permanently, if possible. That will come if the client is committed to the solution. And, the client will be committed if they are involved in the whole consultation process on a collaborative basis (50/50,  client/consultant) as much as possible, from first defining the problem, to planning and doing data collection, to analyzing the data and making recommendations for implementation.

And this way of working will take some skills or approaches that are not  so much in practice or rather not ones we have an opportunity to readily learn in all of the learnin’ we’ve done. The main things I’m thinking of are inquiry and dialogue. Inquiry is simple in concept – just listen actively and maybe give a few prompts, or ask some exploratory questions. And then there’s confrontive inquiry. That’s a bit more risky, but I can see the value in it. I think the key to this is that the confronting is through asking a question to encourage the client to think in an alternate way about the subject at hand. And then there’s dialogue, really having an open conversation where i suspend, for a while, my judgments and biases, and check to see how I’m reacting to what the speaker is saying..

What else?

Helping, collaborative, authentic, curious, inquiring, in dialogue, build trust, feedback when asked or open, maintaining respect, accessing my ignorance, what does the client want? What do I as a consultant want from the client? if I don’t ask, it probably won’t happen just by chance…

understand resistance – it’s mostly just control or vulnerability issues…, confront it and be silent, yes, be silent…

look at how the problem is being managed…

how’s this for an organized, systematic philosophy? And refer to Block, and Schein whenever needed. otherwise, ask somebody – share the problem…

don’t worry, you’re going to make mistakes, that’s part of being flawless, isn’t it? or is the flawless piece that i fess up to my mistakes with the client and see what to do next? be authentic… be authentic… and be authentic…

Engage, get everybody in the room for dialogue, otherwise, it’s less likely to really happen.

Consider the unwitting…

Consulting Skills – Post 2

One of the things that strikes me from this week’s reading on consulting is how important is is to really get clear on who the client is and what the issue/problem is. Sometimes it seems clear, but sometimes I can see it’s not so and if you don’t take time to get clear on who the client is, then it can lead to confusion down the road.

In our assignment for “Who is the client?” I really began to see how important it is to keep in consideration unwitting clients as well as ultimate clients. Particularly, it seems unwitting clients may be easy to overlook. One of the challenges I can see as an internal consultant is that a client may come and ask for help in working with an unwitting client. If there is no intention to involve the ‘unwitting client’, then it could turn into a political situation. In this regard, it would be a subtle challenge for the consultant to keep a neutral and not take sides. One of the most challenging things is to help the client see their contribution to the issue/problem. There often seems to be a tendency to look outside for cause and put blame elsewhere.

I can see that it’s really important to establish a equilibrium in the relationship and build the trust. I have found that only after the sense  of equilibrium and trust have evolved, is it possible to confront a situation directly. It seems important that when confronting this is done in a respectful way.

Well, I keep coming up to where things sound good in theory, but putting them into practice always seem to be another matter… However, I do think it helps to pursue clarity about what sound theory is and then it’s possible to reflect on the difference between theory and practice…

There’s an expression from a person of wisdom that comes to mind, “Right understanding precedes right action.” As such, then right understanding would have to be in accord with the personal values and vision or personal philosophy that one chooses to adopt as a guiding light.


I enjoyed the story of Rita’s journey in her search for meaning. It’s interesting to consider what is involved in the transformational process. Clearly, there was something that was driving Rita from within. A wish, dream, hope, or maybe a vision of something different – perhaps something unseen, just over the horizon.  This dream or hope pushed her out into unknown waters where she sometimes floundered. However, through her experience, perseverance, reflection and perhaps intuition, insight, and latent talent her perspective shifted, in a gradual manner. I also felt that her tutor also was a guiding force and was sensitive about how much power and influence he exerted in his teacher-student relationship with Rita.

One question that came up in class that has struck me was something like, “could it be necessary that we hurt someone in order for them to learn.” This seems to be such a delicate point. It’s clear that there may be things that I do as a person or in the role of a teacher, facilitator (?) that another may feel challenged by, but I think it’s important to understand what my intentions are. If my intentions are to simply cause hurt or pain as some sort of retribution or reaction, then I would have to question whatever those actions are. However, if through my actions another may have to confront some issues that are challenging them or both of us, and my intention and attitude is helpful and respectful, then I would consider this process more closely.

And, by the way, you could call this my theory-in-use (?), but in my actual practice I’m certain I wouldn’t be able to stick to these ideals at all times. However, having a goal, direction, or foundational principles can be helpful in those split second moments when I’m aware that I have a choice of what to do next and am searching for some kind of reference points to guide me. So, it’s helpful we can think through some of this stuff before hand. When the issues come up, then I guess it’s around the experiential learning cycle or spiral I go, how many times before i really do it differently, I don’t know…! bookmarks