For all of us doing our best to intervene and make a positive impact in our organizations or with our clients today, I offer some sage advice from Edgar Schein. What’s fascinating to me is how relevant this work is today. It’s so old it’s new. Here is his take on the basic principles of process consultation.
1. Always try to be helpful.
2. Always stay in touch with the current reality.
3. Access your ignorance.
4. Everything you do is an intervention.
5. It is the client who owns the problem and the solution.
6. Go with the flow and don’t try to push the river.
7. Timing is critical.
8. Everything is data. Errors are inevitable, learn from them.
9. When in doubt share the problem.
All of the above come into play each time we contract to do work. Contracting is just the beginning in an Action Learning intervention and it is also the most important step. When I am honest with myself, I can see that every mistake I have made in my consulting career can be traced back to a contracting mistake, and one of the above principles. Learn these well and keep the list handy.