When the landmark best-seller Flawless Consulting
was first published more than three decades ago, it was quickly adopted as the "consultant's bible." With his legendary warmth and passion, Peter Block explained how to deal effectively with clients, peers, and others. The book continues to speak to people in a support function inside organizations as well as to external consultants.
This thoroughly revised and updated third edition of Peter Block's groundbreaking book explores the latest thinking on consultation. It includes new insights about how we can organize our consulting around discovering the strengths, positive examples, and gifts of the client organization or community. The book remains a practical and specific guide for anyone who needs to develop a capacity for deeper relatedness and partnership -- which means it is for all who wish to make a real difference in the world.
This new edition covers the consulting challenges that have arisen from the way we routinely communicate electronically and live in the virtual world. Block suggests ways to overcome the distancing and isolating effects inherent in electronic connects. The book also includes practical guidance on how to ask better questions, gives suggestions for dealing with difficult clients, and contains expanded guidelines on more engaging forms of implementation.
Flawless Consulting includes two new examples, taken from health care and educational reform efforts, to show how consulting skills can be useful (and often transformative) in a broader context. These illustrative examples point the way for achieving changes for leadership in business, government, religion, human services, and more.
Like the first two editions, Flawless Consulting affirms the notion that authentic behavior and personal relationships are the key to technical and business success. By demonstrating their ability to be truly authentic at each step in the process, consultants can aim toward creating workplaces that are more collaborative and ultimately more successful.
Table of Contents:
1 A Consultant by Any Other Name . . .
Some Definitions and Distinctions.
Consulting Skills Preview.
The Promise of Flawless Consultation.
2 Techniques Are Not Enough.
The Consultant's Assumptions.
The Consultant's Goals.
Roles Consultants Choose.
Collaboration and the Fear of Holding Hands.
Stating the Client's Involvement??Step by Step.
Checklist # 1. Assessing the Balance of Responsibility.
3 Flawless Consulting.
Completing the Requirements of Each Phase.
The Right to Fail.
4 Contracting Overview.
Contracting??The Concept and the Skill.
Elements of a Contract.
Checklist # 2. Analyzing One of Your Contracts.
Ground Rules for Contracting.
5 The Contracting Meeting.
Who Is the Client?
Navigating the Contracting Meeting.
When You Get Stuck.
The Problem with Saying No.
Checklist #3. Planning a Contracting Meeting.
Selling Your Services??Good Selling Is Good Contracting.
The Meeting As a Model of How You Work.
Closing the Contracting Meeting.
After the Contracting Meeting.
Checklist # 4. Reviewing the Contracting Meeting.
6 The Agonies of Contracting.
Dealing with Low Motivation.
Ceaselsss Negotiation??The Shifting Tide of Your Role.
Some Other Specific Agonies.
The Virtual World.
7 The Internal Consultant.
Important Differences between Internal and Externam Consultants.
Triangles and Rectangles.
8 Understanding Resistance.
The Faces of Resistance.
What Are Clients Resisting When They Are Resisting Us?
Sometimes It Is Not Resistance.
The Fear and the Wish.
Ogres and Angels.
. . .And Heroics.
9 Dealing with Resistance.
Don't Take It Personally.
Good Faith Responses.
Consulting with a Stone.
10 From Diagnosis to Discovery.
It Is Still the Relationship That Counts.
The Call to Action.
The Problem Is Not the Problem.
How the Problem Is Being Managed.
11 Whole System Discovery.
Takng a Whole-System Approach.
Putting Whole-System Discovery to Work.
12 Discovering Gifts, Capacities and Possibilities.
When All Else Fails.
The Power of Positive Deviance.
The Implications for Consulting.
An Example of What Is Working.
13 Get the Picture.
The Steps in Getting the Picture.
A Word about Bias.
Assessing How the Situation Is Being Managed.
The Discovery Interview.
Levels of Analysis.
Your Experience As Data.
Checklist # 5. Planning a Discovery Meeting.
Checklist # 6. Reviewing the Discovery Meeting.
14 Preparing for Feedback.
A Clear Picture May Be Enough.
Condensing the Data.
Some Do's and Don'ts.
Language in Giving the Picture.
Presenting the Picture . . . As Courtroom Drama.
Support and Confrontation.
15 Managing the Meeting for Action.
How to Present the Picture.
Structuring the Meeting.
The Meeting for Action??Step by Step.
Resistance in the Meeting.
Checklist # 7. Planning a Meeting For Action.
When the Group Is at Odds among Themselves.
Checklist # 8. Reviewing the Meeting.
Modeling the Meeting.
Choosing Engagement over Installation.
Deciding Doesn't Get It Done.
The Case Against Installation.
Betting on Engagement.
17 Elements of Engagement.
The Meeting Is the Message.
Eight Ways to Engage.
Checklist # 9. Preparing for Implementation.
Checklist # 10. Reviewing an Implementation Event.
18 Consultant As Teacher.
Assumptions about Motivating Students.
Taking a Consultant's Stance.
The Trip to Washington, DC.
The Choice in the Matter.
19 The Heart of the Matter.
Choosing Learning over Teaching.
Learning As a Social Adventure.
The Struggle Is the Solution.
The Question Is More Important Than the Answer.
Insight Resides in Moments of Tension.
Capacities Bear More Fruit Than Deficiencies.
We Are Responsible for One Another's Learning.
Culture Changes in the Moment.
If Change Is So Wonderful, Why Don't You Go First?
The Final Question Is One of Faith.
Suggestions for Further Reading.
About the Author.
About Designed Learning.
Praise for the third edition of Flawless Consulting:
"Consulting at its best is about action and interaction, relationships and results. In a highly readable guide that is both inspirational and practical, Peter Block leads consultant and client together through a proven approach to realize their future."
--Samuel R. Strickland chief financial and administrative officer, Booz Allen Hamilton
"Surpasses the high standards of relevance, clarity, and wisdom characteristic of previous versions. . . . Whether one's consulting experience spans five years or fifty, there is a great deal in this new edition to prompt us to reflect on our own practice and to discuss with colleagues."
--Roger Harrison independent consultant and author of Consultant's Journey: A Dance of Work and Spirit and The Collected Papers of Roger Harrison
"Peter Block has written a masterful third edition of his masterpiece, Flawless Consulting. Important additions to the third edition are the strength-based strategies that many are beginning to use . . . in solving seemingly intractable problems in health care and other industries. They are featured in a new Chapter Twelve and form a common thread that runs through this entire path-breaking book."
--Jon C. Lloyd, MD, FACS senior associate, Positive Deviance Initiative; clinical advisor, Plexus Institute
"Peter's masterwork, Flawless Consulting, has been my go-to guide since the first edition. . . . Flawless Consulting is not just a practical, useful, and inviting book for practitioners. It's all those things, but it's also a book about some of the most vexing issues we face when consulting to organizations issues of resistance, truth, doubt, vulnerability, and accountability. If you find yourself giving advice to people making choices, then this book is a must-have for you. Buy it today, use it tomorrow."
--Jim Kouzes award-winning coauthor of the best-selling The Leadership Challenge and The Truth About Leadership, and Dean's Executive Professor of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University
Peter Block is an author and consultant whose work is about empowerment, stewardship, chosen accountability, and the reconciliation of community. He is the author of several best-selling books, including the first two editions of Flawless Consulting, Stewardship, Community, and The Empowered Manager. He is a partner in Designed Learning, a training company that offers his personally designed workshops that help to build the skills outlined in his books.