¶ … appreciative inquiry, action research and process consultation, a high level of participation among the members of the system desiring change is important. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that the consultant is an outsider, and as such cannot know everything about the organization. The internal stakeholders are critical to understanding the issues and dynamics at work within the organization. The second reason is that all organizational change efforts require a high level of cooperation from the internal stakeholders. Ultimately, it is the people within the company that need to implement the ideas, and without their buy-in it will be all but impossible to effectively bring about organizational change. By involving them through a high level of participation in the process, they are aware of what is going on throughout the process, have an opportunity to have their say and to influence the process. Ultimately, when the internal stakeholders have played a role in shaping the solution, they are more likely to support the change and will work harder to ensure that there is buy-in throughout the entire organization for the change process.
Lastly, some of these techniques inherently require a high level of participation by their definition. Process consultation and appreciative inquiry in particular are processes where the consultant guides and influences the company but the change effort is driven by the internal stakeholders. You simply cannot have process consultation without a high level of participation on the part of the internal stakeholders, by definition.
A consultant therefore needs to maximize participation. This can be done in a number of ways. The first is that the consultant needs to ensure that the internal stakeholders understand the process and their role within the process. It is simply easier for the company to fulfill its role when it understands what that role actually is. The next step it to actively solicit this feedback and participation. The reason is simple -- while this process is going on, the people within the company still have a full slate of regular work that they are doing. Thus, any time given to this change process is time that they must carve out of their workdays. The default would be to minimize this time, since they are unlikely to be measured in their performance during this process, and time taken away from their regular duties might reduce their ability to perform at those duties. The consultant therefore needs to encourage participation, including scheduling participation as a means of ensuring that key stakeholders are devoting sufficient time to this change effort.
Phase 3, Individual Project
Identification of Grand Objective -- to improve organizational performance across a number of metrics. In the early stages of the consultation process, the company will establish with the consultant the metrics that it wants to improve, and target benchmarks for these metrics will be set, as a means of guiding the consultation process towards objectives that matter to the end client.
Identification of first sub-objective -- This will be done when I have actually had a chance to talk to the people in the organization and see how it works. There will probably be a sub-objective every week, so that the consultation process can move through weekly cycles.
Planning Phase -- I see the planning process as being something done post-consultation, once I start working with the client. Formal systems are not something I am enthusiastic about. It's too stiff and I find that most people are more comfortable with natural interactions, and you certainly learn more about the organization that way because the people within the organization open up to you more when the conversation is not stilted.
The first 1-2-hour meeting will need to involve the following items of business. First are the introductions and starting to understand the mission of the organization. A quick tour of the facilities will also be necessary as well in order to get a physical sense of the operation, and maybe to meet some of the people working within the organization. The meeting will also involve me explaining in more detail what I intend to do, how the process works, and of course what my expectations for the client are. I would also get a feel for what the client expects of me -- this conversation relates to the psychological contract and just trying to ensure that we are on the same page, more or less, with what this...
The restaurant is a family business, so everybody is going to be there regardless of what I decide. This means I want to focus on the positive, and how to ensure that we come up with a plan to maximize the potential. A lot of this is just thinking, being creative, talking to the client about ideas. The client has to be involved in this process, heavily so, which means that meetings need to be regular, and involve a two-way flow of information.
The reflection phase is something that I can do after each meeting where I talk with management about the organization and how it can move forward. I would see this consultation as a cyclical process, with each weekly meeting being an iteration, where what is decided can be implemented in the following week. In this way, the meetings can focus on what things are working, what barriers there are to success and of course throughout this entire process we can learn a lot about how to make subsequent cycles smoother, more effective, or both.
The Letter of Intent should contain the following agreement:
Letter of Intent
July 19, 2014
Name of Organization
Address of Organization
The organization agrees to allow a consultation process with ____, using the principle of appreciative inquiry. It is expected that there will be weekly meetings, and that ideas discussed in this meetings will be implemented within the company as part of this research. This research will run for ____ weeks, and at the end there will be a final consultation and discussion of findings. The meetings will be held at a time and place agreed upon by both parties. The meetings may involve a variety of stakeholders.
Overall, the letter of intent is just an agreement that the organization will be a participant in the consulting process. The discussion with the organization about the type of consultation provided (appreciative inquiry) and the roles to be played by the consultant and the members of the internal stakeholder group will have already taken place, as a means of framing this understanding. Anything that needs to be formalized -- this will be decided by the two parties together -- will also be included in the letter of intent.
Phase 3, Discussion Board 2
Part II. Chapman (1998) argues that process consultants will sometimes use different skills, or use certain skills more or less often, when doing work with non-profit organizations. Certainly, skills that are oriented towards profit-drivers are going to be downplayed, and those with collaboration are going to be emphasized. Process consultation is inherently driven as much by the people within the organization as the consultant, which means that the consultant is going to need to deal with key stakeholders in the non-profit in a manner that is effective. Where appeals to profits are not interesting to this group, and appeals to other outputs will be more effective. I feel that the culture of non-profits is different than the culture of for-profit entities. People may be motivated as much by the work that they are doing as by the paycheck, so there is perhaps greater room for collaboration. As a process consultant, you are as much as anything just trying to get the people within the organization to do things better than perhaps they are presently doing them.
When the non-profit is also small, the ability of the process consultant to get buy-in is significant. Christensen and Klyver (2006) note that "clients are co-producers of the consulting process" and that this is especially true in small organizations. It is necessary, as a process consultant, to be able to engage and collaborate, and foster communication, as essential skills that will be used while dealing with these types of organizations. Thus, it is not so much using different skills or new skills, and just varying to some extent which skills will need to be emphasized, based on the needs, culture and power structure of the organization. Smaller organizations and non-profits definitely have some differences from for-profit corporations and the process consultant needs to be aware of these differences and change strategy accordingly.
Phase 3, Discussion Board 3
Part II. Dent (2001) provides that a psychological contract is something entered into with a new employee joining a company. The contract is implicit in the person's head that there is a mutual expectation between the employee and the employer, and that each party must fulfill the…
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