I have just finished my integration paper and sent it to Dr. Hurst! Here is a section from it, where I break down Schein’s ten principles and how I kept them in my mind while I was doing this project. Thanks again to my amazing group, who taught me so much! ❤
Ten Principles of Process Consulting
One aspect of Schein’s text that stuck with me the most as my group was working my way through the project with Viking Recording is when he discussed the ten principles of process consulting. These principles and the idea of “helping” formed the foundation of this project in my mind. How did the group do? I will go through each one by one and discuss our progress.
1. Always Try to Be Helpful
I wanted to make sure Allen knew that our goal was to help him, not criticize him or find fault with his work. The research we chose to do was very deliberate, as we tried to think about the future and what he might need then, but also what he should look at right now in order to improve his business.
2. Always Stay in Touch with the Current Reality
I think my “inside” knowledge through my husband allowed my team to stay grounded in reality. There was so much going on with Live at Ipanema and Viking all the time, and I shared as much of that knowledge with my team as I could. This allowed us to narrow our focus and not worry about things that would likely make Allen’s life more stressful (his relationship with Kendra and John at Ipanema). While some people might have seen that as an area for growth, it was just not in our power as grad students and non-professionals that were not hired by Viking Recording.
3. Access Your Ignorance
While I used my knowledge to benefit the group, I also could not pretend I knew everything about the situation, as that would not help at all. Not knowing the bigger picture all the time can lead to more successful questions and discovery. Our ignorance led us to act with purpose and dig deeper.
4. Everything You Do is an Intervention
I did not think much of this step until I saw how my group’s actions were influencing the actions of Allen, PJ and those around them. For instance, PJ and Allen have been even more active lately when it comes to LAI and their businesses–they very well could have been influenced by the work being done in the consulting group. I had more power than I realized, too, when I casually brought up this project to Kendra, the owner of Ipanema. I told her we were trying to help Allen grow his business, and she told me she was very pleased with LAI.
5. The client owns the problem and the solution
At first, this was a little difficult for me to wrap my head around. “But don’t they want me to help? I can’t help unless I come up with a solution.” As I read more about process consulting as opposed to my preconceived ideas about consulting, this principle made more sense. We are just there to guide Allen to a solution: we were not there to fix his problem or give him a plan for what to do next. In our feedback meeting, which went very well, it seems Allen and PJ were ignited with finding ways to helping Viking, Live at Ipanema, and PJ’s photo business.
6. Go with the flow
I am not a flow person. I am very rigid and I love rules and specific processes. Thankfully, the two women in my group helped me let go and become more comfortable with the process. As I mentioned, we had questions written up for the discovery meeting that I desperately want to follow because I knew we would get the answers we wanted that way. However, during the meeting, discussion often went elsewhere, keeping us all on our toes. I had to forgo the notes more than I wanted to and ask questions off the cuff. It turned out ok! That way, the meeting felt less formal and stiff and more like a chat with a friend.
7. Timing is crucial
The group worked very hard to time our meetings and emails to get the most out of them. We always brought suggested times to Allen, and let him choose, so he did not have to get involved in the drama of deciding when to meet. The timing of the consulting project couldn’t have been better, either: Allen and PJ were at a crossroads and deciding where to take their businesses next. Allen was ready to receive feedback and he wanted to know what he was doing wrong and what he was doing well. If this project had been done last year, he probably would not have been ready to hear the hard truth (in reality, not that bad!).
8. Be constructively opportunistic with confrontational interventions
In our meetings, Allen would sometimes signal his own openness–at one point, he said flat out, “I want to know what I am doing wrong.” He was ready to have someone critically look at his business. We would find moments like that and make the most of them, by not only giving Allen positive feedback but also confronting him and telling him where he had room to grow. This is a part of going with the flow, to me: you have to trust the process and be aware of everything so you can sense breaks in the conversation and change the conversation.
9. Everything is a source of data; errors are inevitable–learn from them
I was thrilled that both Allen and my group were open to multiple sources of data–this would help broaden our knowledge of the situation. We examined the social media of Allen and his competitors, observed him in action at Live at Ipanema, and interviewed some frequent attendees to LAI and his recording studio. We also learned to be creative, sending emails to Allen with questions or getting information from PJ.
10. When in doubt share the problem
I don’t think any of us expected my husband to become a part of this project, but he is closely tied to Allen through Live at Ipanema and their similar work. He was at the discovery meeting since it was at our house, and he started to jump in and answer questions with Allen. Soon he was sitting at the table with us! To me, this is how we shared the problem, by allowing someone else to help and take it on. PJ ended up being a great help to us and I ran our papers by him as well so he could offer advice.