As an organizational consultant, you must carefully uncover clues that can tell you how to prepare, plan, and recommend approaches for an upcoming meeting or project. A variety of tools exist to help you do this including: face to face “pre-meetings” (planning meetings) with a leader and the group, electronic surveys, written surveys, and review of previous work by the group or organization (e.g. reviewing a current strategic plan).
The Consultant Competencies
- Assess and share my biases and conflicts of interest with client.
- Collaborate with client to build an integral project plan.
- Assess personality, behavioral styles, and organizational development.
- Solicit evaluation and make adjustments.
- Follow-up to maintain momentum and continuity between group engagements.
Knowledge drawn from the perspective of the four quadrants will give you a comprehensive background to best serve your group’s needs, especially given the fact that the project sponsor most likely made diagnoses about their group that are incomplete or incorrect. As you assess your client’s challenges, you may want to keep notes corresponding to each of the quadrants on separate pages: one for yourself (facilitator), one for content/product, one for process, and one for group culture.
Here are a sample of basic questions you may want to ask before designing and engaging in a facilitated session. Have a look at this list and note if there are any questions that are new to you or that you feel are missing.
Upper Right: Task Management (goals, roles, tasks)
- Goals: What are you already doing or think should be done? Why is this important now?
- Outcomes: What relational, substantive, and symbolic outcomes might be important in assessing the results and value of our work? What do you hope will be different by the end of this project?
- Background: What have you learned from past experience with this group or on this effort that might improve project outcomes?
- Scope: What are your objectives for this project? What are the deliverables, if any?
- Customer: Who are the customers impacted by project outcomes and what are their needs/requirements?
- Stakeholders: Who are the key stakeholders and what are their roles in the process?
Lower Right: Group Management (process, systemic elements)
- Vision & Mission: What are the vision and mission of this organization?
- Systems & Structures: How might organizational or community systems, structures, policies, procedures, etc. be contributing to this issue?
- Politics: Are their political pressures or situations that we need to consider?
- Roles: What are the roles needed to support our meeting process?
- Systemic Challenges: What are possible organizational or societal challenges or opportunities at play?
- Decision Norms: What decision-making norms exist within the group/organization? How do they align with sponsor expectations and group outcomes?
Lower Left: Group Awareness (cultural/relational elements)
- Climate: What aspects of cultural climate might support or impede the group/organization?
- Norms and Values: What norms and values do we want to support in the effort/organization and which are not serving us? Are there symbols, rewards, or stories that help preserve important values and expel others?
- Communication and Conflict Style: How direct or indirect is communication in this group/organization? What type of conflict is expected or avoided?
Upper Left: Self-Awareness (values, interests, motivations)
- Participant Agendas: As members, what are our personal expectations and needs to effectively participate?
- Facilitator Agendas: As Facilitator, what are my biases, needs, and expectations? What are my triggers and how can I be more aware of them?
- Intuition: Is there anything that feels off about this situation? What am I thinking but not saying or asking?