One response to “When Consultants Should Facilitate, Coach or Train”

  1. This is a great article and think it’s an important topic for consultants and the people who hire them. Actually, I just discovered this site; the whole thing is a pretty impressive volume of work. It’s also a useful contribution to address the fragmentation of learning, practice, and profession-building in the arena of organizational change and development. Given the turbulence of of our times and magnitude of our social and environmental challenges, the need for more effective organizational change and development practices will climb higher and higher. I appreciate efforts such as this that aid in creating shared language and identification of practitioner fields that should work together to produce greater, more sustainable results.

    For some time now I have thought of myself as an OD consultant, who uses some combination of facilitation, training, coaching, and even mediation, to help organizations achieve their goals. This has been an evolutionary process. In 1991, I founded my own company, Collaborative Solutions, “to help organizations solve problems and create meaningful change.” I felt very strongly about assuming a facilitative role, “trusting the wisdom of the group”, and not taking a position on the substance or direction of their work.

    I still stay out of the substance, but over the years I have shifted toward more of the “process consultant” role advocated by Edgar Schein. Many years ago I went through a stage of reading the foundational works of OD consultant pioneers and gained a deeper appreciation for their commitment to working in collaboration with clients and helping them build capacity for generating their own solutions. I saw that they worked simultaneously as consultants (with process expertise), as trainers (who help participants learn while doing), and as coaches (who work on an individual level to strengthen competencies).

    The inherent need to work collaboratively to change an entire organization requires individuals to change as well. These are hard changes to make, as we all have long been operating according to the old hierarchical mental model and corresponding behavioral expectations. Any organizational change initiative would be well served by professionals who can perform in multiple roles — as consultants who can call upon their expertise with other efforts and provide insight and specific recommendations, but also as trainers who share specific strategies, and as coaches, who give individual’s encouragement and feedback. Developing abilities to contribute effectively in collaborative large-scale change processes really does requires ongoing consultative advice, training and coaching.

    Good job! keep up the great work

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