The Consultation Process

We continue our reflection on Jethro as an effective consultant.  One of the modern day authorities on consulting could have gleaned his insights from Jethro.  Peter Block in Flawless Consulting gives twelve steps for effective consulting:

1) Defining the initial problem

2) Deciding to proceed with the project

3) Selecting dimensions to be studied

4) Who is involved in the study

5) Selecting the method

6) Data collection

7) Funneling the data

8) Data summary

9) Data analysis

10) Feedback of results

11) Recommendations

12) Decision on actions

Very few leaders will learn or apply all of these disciplines.  Some steps come more naturally (intuitively) to certain leaders.  Each step has relevance for great outcomes.  We can see Block’s steps #10 and 11 in principles 6-9 in the life of Jethro from Exodus 18 below (principles 1-5 were discussed in prior blogs):

  1. 18:17 Advise honestly and directly. Jethro was able to communicate in a clear and honest way what he observed and his suggestion for a better solution.  He had an established relationship upon which to build.  What he shared was concisely stated and reasonable.
  2. 18:18 Show the benefit from several points of view. Jethro told Moses how the recommended change would help both him and the people.  It is best when the solution can serve to enhance several challenges facing the organization.
  3. 18:19-22 Offer advice and then let others decide. The consultant serves by observing, analyzing and recommending solutions.  He rarely is an active part of implementation.  One must give enough detail so the solution is understandable, clear and doable.  Certainly change can be fine tuned as implementation unfolds but the critical components for change must be identified at the start so the change process does not abort.
  4. 18:23 Clarify what the results could look like. People are helped when they can see a picture of how the change will make their life and organization better.  Before disengaging as a consultant it is beneficial to help those being served paint the picture of the preferable future.  This picture will linger and provide motivation through the change process.

When I get busy the last thing I want is more information and different perspectives.  I tend to plod along through my work, all the while trying to keep a smile.  My greatest felt need is for accomplishing… getting things done.  Can you identify with this scenario?

Even though multiple Proverbs affirm the value of wise counsel and lots of it, I can get blinded to my way of doing things.  It is easier to stay the known course than to change.

Moses was like this.  He had no paradigm for change and was wearing himself out through his dutiful servant’s heart.  Until, that is, God brought Jethro along.  After a brief time of re-acquaintance, Moses returned to his heavy-hearted, all-day work of judging the situations brought to him (Exodus 18: 13).  Jethro, the consultant, was able to help Moses see a better way forward that resulted in much blessing.

For whom can you serve as a consultant?  Who can you invite to help you as a consultant?  There could be a world of difference around the corner!


Next blog: The Consultants Goal


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