“Are you a process consultant or a management consultant?” the President of the Company asked me. He went on to say “we need a management consultant.” I thought about his question as the distinction between the two had not previously occurred to me. I wondered how one could be helpful as a management consultant if one didn’t exercise mastery with process?
I thought back to an organization that I had worked with. It was a health service organization. They had had a management review by a consulting firm, had made the recommended adjustments, and then considered themselves ready for their upcoming accreditation review. They failed in the accreditation process and were placed on probation for six months. At the end of six months they would be evaluated again and if they failed, would lose their designation as a health service. At that time, the Executive Director contacted me. One of her Board members had recommended that the organization hire us. The Board member was a staff member of another health organization that we had assisted with organization wide transformation. I remember the statement from the Executive Director: ‘We want to hire you because we understand that you do things differently and we have tried the more traditional ways and they didn’t work. Because we have tried everything else, we have nothing to lose in trying you as our last resort’. My ego took a bit of a spill with that conclusion. It would have been good to hear that she wanted to hire us because we were good.
We carried out our work as management consultants with our eye to the end goal of their need to excel in all aspects of managing their organization, yet our primary focus was on the process to assist the people involved in the organization to engage with organizational excellence. After an intense six months of involving the many stakeholders in conversations about organizational excellence during individual interviews, small group meetings, and two large ‘whole system’ meetings, and leadership capacity development, the accreditation evaluators returned. The health service passed this time, with high marks…after only six months of an organizational transformation process.
- When hiring a management consultant, ensure that the management consultant is also good at designing processes for engaging all of the people involved in moving towards organizational excellence
- To achieve organizational excellence, it is imperative to involve stakeholders in the process using highly participative meetings as a catalyst for the desired transformation. Meeting processes that work well for this purpose include Whole Person Process Facilitation and Open Space Technology.
- It is important to identify the outcome, to keep an eye on the outcome you want, but to put your focus on the process to get there