As a consultant, you might provide a variety of types of consulting and use a variety of different methods, such as advising, coaching or facilitating. Each of those methods is extremely important to know how to use and when to use. This course gives guidelines for how to use each and when. It also explains how to switch methods when needed. The course also dispels common myths about how consultants work -- myths that colleagues and clients might have about you.
This course explains the foundational concepts, terms and practices for professional consulting in any field. This course 1) gives you a broad definition of consulting; 2) explains the most common categories and types of consulting; 3) explains two very different and powerful approaches to solving problems with your clients; 4) explains those priorities in any consulting project, along with the working goals and assumptions behind each of them; 5) shares guidelines for you to always know who your real client is; and 6) clearly explains the similarities and differences between internal and external consultants.
Regardless of your type of consulting, it is critical that you establish some major principles, or guideposts, to ensure that you always consult in a manner that is highly effective, fair and equitable and that minimizes your liabilities as a consultant. In this course, you will learn powerful principles you can adopt in your own practice. You will also learn how to recognize, minimize and manage the risks inherent in any kind of consulting practice, especially during these times of increasing litigation. Finally, you will learn how to leave a project – if you absolutely have to – and to do so without causing further harm to yourself or your clients.
Your most powerful consulting tool is yourself -- how well you understand and accept others, and how well you cultivate working relationships with your clients. The more you understand yourself, the more effective you will be as a consultant. That includes knowing about your consulting style, biases (we all have them), natural view of organizations, response to feedback and conflict, and emotional intelligence. This course shares guidelines and resources to ensure that you fully understand yourself and your effects on others during significant consulting projects.
This purpose of this phase of the consulting process is to analyze whether the consulting project should be terminated or not. Depending on the outcome of the Evaluation Phase, you and your client might decide to cycle back to an earlier phase of the consulting process, for example, to refocus on the causes of the problem and what to do about it. If you decide to terminate the project, then you need to do so ethically, legally and administratively.
This purpose of this Evaluation Phase is to ensure that your client’s organization has integrated the necessary new approaches and practices to solve the problem now and into the future. This is the phase of the consulting process that really pays off if action plans have been focused on changing structures, plans, policies and roles. In this phase, you and your client will decide if the issues that were identified during the Discovery Phase have been successfully addressed. You will decide whether to proceed to the Termination Phase or to cycle back to an earlier phase to re-address your client's problem.
The collaborative consulting cycle provides a flexible framework in which you and your clients continually coordinate, dialogue and learn about the best actions to take to improve the performance of their organizations. This course explains the dynamics in the cycle and the roles in it, including which roles you do, your client does, and you both do together. It explains how to ensure your clients are involved, even when they’re already extremely busy in their organizations. Each phase of the cycle is also explained.
In the previous phase of consulting, the Contracting Phase, you and your client decided that there was a good fit between the nature and needs of both of you, and you both formally decided to work together in a project. Now, in this Discovery Phase, you and your client will work together to understand more about the problem (the presenting priority) and how you can effectively address it. You will collect information about the priority (hopefully in a highly collaborative manner with your client), analyze it to identify findings and conclusions, and then make relevant and realistic recommendations from that information.
In the previous phase of consulting, the Discovery Phase, you and your client conducted research to clarify the priority to address in your client's organization and what to do about it. This Action Planning phase is focused on further clarifying those recommendations, along with developing them into various action plans, perhaps including plans for evaluation, communication, motivation and learning. The various plans are integrated into an overall plan, for example, a Change Management Plan. Thus, the early activities in this phase overlap and are a continuation with the activities near the end of the previous Discovery phase. This is true whether you are an external or internal consultant.
The benefits of a collaborative approach to consulting are many, including that it 1) more quickly identifies the real causes of your clients’ problems, 2) cultivates the commitment and participation needed to implement action plans to solve problems, 3) and generates deep learning for you and your client. This is true whether you are an external or internal consultant, a generalist or specialist, or work in for-profits, nonprofits or government. Guidelines in this course will help you to work with your client in a collaborative approach that is open and honest and is based on clear and supportive communication.
In this phase, you and your client will work together to effectively implement the action plans from the Action Planning Phase. Although you want to work in a highly collaborative manner with your client, it is your client who must implement those plans in the workplace. What they had been doing naturally before is often what caused their issues in the first place. So they are likely to have to change, not only the organization, but some of themselves. Now is when you must muster all of your skills as a consultant (people, consulting, systems and organizational) because you will be supporting your client to get a lot done.
This multiple choice quiz tests your knowledge of how to do the contracting phase of the consulting process, especially when using the process to solve complex problems in organizations.