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  • Friday, April 12, 2024 9:20 AM | Kathy Vlietstra (Administrator)

    By Matt Visser, Senior Design Partner, Design Group International

    Your life as a leader is full of so many responsibilities. So many things to juggle each day and so many tasks that fill your inbox. It is difficult to find time to “just be” amid appointments, meetings, deadlines, and more meetings. The act of “being” is pushed back to the weekend or your PTO.

    The practice of mindfulness can help you, as a leader, gain valuable perspective on your life as a leader. By taking regular time to “just be”, you can ground yourself in the present, strengthen your resilience for the daily challenges of leading, and increase your levels of personal flourishing.

    What is mindfulness?

    Irene Kraegel from Calvin University gives a simple and clear definition of mindfulness.

    “Mindfulness is a simple concept. It means intentionally paying attention to the present moment with an attitude of nonjudgmental curiosity. This can be practiced formally, using times of silent meditation to hone our awareness of what is present around us moment to moment. It can also be practiced informally by regularly bringing our attention back to the present throughout each day.”

    As she articulates, mindfulness draws our attention to the present and helps us again awareness of the present moment.

    Minding your Person

    You are a whole person, and your physical health and wellness is a key part of your personal flourishing. You are an embodied person that exists in the world. Take a moment to breath and be present to recognize your personhood is the start of recognizing your “being” and letting go of your “doing”.

    Minding your Spirit

    You are a spiritual person, and your existence is bigger than yourself. Taking time to recognize that we are not the center of the universe can be a freeing and hopeful exercise is mindfulness. Take a moment, or several moments in silence to hear the world around you and connect with the divine. Silence is a powerful mindfulness tool to help your “being”.

    Minding your Thoughts

    Your thoughts and your reflections on the past, present, and future are an important way of being in this world. As cheesy as it may sound, this “present” moment is a gift. The past is over, and you cannot control what has happened previously. You cannot control your future and all that it will bring moving forward. You can only engage your present moment and what you do with today.

    Setting aside time to reflect can help you engage your thoughts and increase your mindfulness. As a leader, embracing the present gives you great perspective to adapt to the challenges you are facing.

    Additional Reflection Questions

    Some questions for your reflection as you spend time being vs. doing.

    o What do you want to let go of that’s now behind you in the past?

    o What intentions to do you want to set for what’s ahead of you?

    o What do you want to embrace for what you want to hold to for today?

    Want to practice your mindfulness and taking a “being break”? Join me and others on Friday, April 19th. Register HERE.

    Matt Visser is a Senior Design Partner with Design Group International, and a member with the Society for Process Consulting. 
    To learn more about Matt, go here. 
  • Friday, April 05, 2024 7:30 AM | Kathy Vlietstra (Administrator)

    What is Process Consulting? 
    By Matt Visser

    The Society for Process Consulting, the credentialing body teaching the practice of Process Consulting, offers us a working definition:

    “Process Consulting is an iterative form of humble inquiry and guidance in which the consultant works alongside the Client to co-create solutions. A process consultant’s purpose is not to provide ready-made solutions but to advance the Client’s growth and learning through an authentic discovery process.”

    How does Process Consulting work in practice?

    As Process Consultants, we utilize three primary values in order to effectively walk alongside you as a Client. A process approach to consulting recognizes the critical role of listening to you in order to design solutions that move your organization forward and the learning required to make organizational change sustainable. Although these shared values may function in sequence, they are often iterative and constantly working together throughout our relationship.


    We start by asking you deeper questions in order to uncover the real purpose of a process and the adaptive challenges you want to address in order to foster growth and transformation. Through embracing the cultural, social, and relational context of your organization, we co-create a process that aligns with your most important goals to move your organization forward.


    Equipped with the right purpose and a co-created process, we walk alongside you and your organization through the planned activities that advance the your goals and objectives. Through iterative steps along the way, we will shift and pivot to achieve your desired results.


    We work collaboratively to constantly learn through the process so in the end, you are equipped to lead the process you have created for your organization. Through developing the knowledge and skills necessary to lead, the process becomes sustainable and generative for you and your organization in the future

    Five Reasons why a Process Approach is helpful for leaders and organizations.

    Once you understand what is meant by “Process Consulting” and how Process Consulting works in practice, it may be helpful for you to explore key reasons why a process approach to consulting may help you and your organization transform for a vibrant future.

    A Process Approach to consulting…

    1. Embraces Complexity

    The world is complex and your organization is dynamic and changing. The unique social, emotional, and cultural context of your organization is essential. Complexity is best addressed through adaptive solutions designed through co-creating a process.

    2. Digs Deeper to uncover Real Purpose

    The posture of listening and humble inquiry allows us to dig deeper and move beyond surface issues. An iterative process that begins with listening uncovers the real purpose of a process.

    3. Values Organizational Strengths

    As the Client, you are the expert. As an expert, your perspectives and insights are essential and valuable. A process approach recognizes the creativity and resourcefulness you have as a leader and the unique strengths of your key stakeholder groups.

    4. Grows Leadership Capacity

    You will learn new knowledge and skills through the process. This learning leads to your personal transformation experiential learning and grows your capacity to lead in the future.

    5. Deepens Relationships

    A Process Consulting approach builds trust, transparency, and collaboration and leads to deepened relationships both inside and outside of the organization. An approach that designs a process around your stakeholders helps broaden engagement and creates an inclusive environment.

    Interested in learning more about how a process can help you or your organization grow?

    By Matt Visser, a Senior Design Partner with Design Group International, and a member with the Society for Process Consulting.  To learn more about Matt, go here.  
  • Monday, November 13, 2023 11:06 AM | Kathy Vlietstra (Administrator)

    In a recent conversation, Society of Process Consulting member Jeanne Zimmerly Jantzi discussed the concept of "guesthood" and its connections to process consulting. Jeanne shed light on the importance of guesthood as a mindset and a valuable approach when working with clients, drawing parallels between diverse cultural experiences and the world of process consulting.

    What is Guesthood?

    Jeanne shared her unique perspective on guesthood, drawn from her extensive experience living in different cultures, including Africa and Asia. She explained that anthropologists use “guesthood” to describe an ethical decolonizing research method. Guesthood emphasizes being a respectful and humble guest rather than a dominant colonizer.. It encourages cultural sensitivity, fosters positive interactions, and promotes a balanced dynamic of being within a scene without taking over the scene. Practicing guesthood involves acknowledging your role as a guest, treading lightly, and approaching new situations with openness for more harmonious relationships.

    She revealed that during her time in Indonesia, she and her intercultural team were the objects of an two year anthropological study. The Australian researcher entered their space as a guest, trying to observe, interpret, and make conclusions while also inviting her interpretation and analysis. The guesthood approach differs from earlier approaches to anthropology, in which observations and interpretations are made without the participation and analysis of the group being studied This experience opened her eyes to the essence of guesthood and its significance to the idea of co-creation of processes and knowledge.

    Guesthood in Learning

    The guesthood mindset encourages consultants to approach their work as observers and learners first, rather than imposing their own ideas and assumptions on clients. This approach is particularly crucial in intercultural consulting, where respecting the culture and being mindful of power dynamics are of paramount importance. As Jeanne put it, “there is a lot of remembering to be quiet, observe, and ask questions.”

    The Connection Between Guesthood and Co-Creation

    Jeanne’s insights align with the principles of process consulting, emphasizing the importance of co-creation. The guesthood paradigm illuminates the importance of checking any assumptions or conclusions with the Client for accuracy. Rather than entering a client's space with preconceived solutions, process consultants aim to work in partnership with their clients. This collaborative approach fosters a sense of respect, mutual learning, and the acknowledgment that clients bring invaluable knowledge to the table.

    Recognizing Power Dynamics and Whiteness

    Jeanne’s perspective highlights the importance of recognizing and addressing power dynamics in consulting relationships. She stresses that consultants, especially those with privilege, should be acutely aware of the power they bring to a client engagement. This acknowledgment includes understanding how their presence may impact the client's decision-making process, and the responsibility to be humble, respectful, and avoid overpowering the client with their own perspectives and assumptions.

    Applying the Guesthood Mindset in the US

    Understanding guesthood in the United States means recognizing power imbalances and how it relates to issues like caste and implicit bias. Jeanne explained how the awareness of caste can help us understand power imbalances in various situations, such as age-related dynamics and racial biases. She encouraged people to be mindful of their own position in these systems and strive to reject and rectify the constructs that perpetuate power imbalances.

    Challenges and Opportunities

    Jeanne noted that adopting the guesthood mindset helps consultants in entering any new organizational culture. Recognizing and addressing power dynamics leads to inclusivity and collaboration, benefiting consulting and promoting diversity and equity.

    In summary, the guesthood concept offers a valuable framework for process consultants to approach their work with humility, openness, and a deep respect for the knowledge and experiences of their clients. By applying the principles of guesthood, we can navigate the complex world of consulting while actively challenging and dismantling systemic power imbalances in society.

  • Tuesday, May 16, 2023 11:49 AM | Hallie Knox

    Today's guest blog post was written by our current spotlighted member, Dr. Linda Baker-Brandon, who serves as the Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator (TTAC) and Education Consultant Director for ICF. A Certified Process Consultant using process consulting practices, Dr. Linda walks alongside her team of 42 remote professionals, who in turn walk alongside the managers and facilitators of government-funded programs such as Head Start, enabling them to meet their goals and regulations through training and technical assistance. Dr. Linda is a model Listener, Helper, and Learner! 

    It might not sound like it from the description, but my job really is all about process consulting.

    I serve as the Training and Technical Assistant Coordinator and Education Consultant Director for ICF. What exactly does that mean? I provide leadership, training, and coaching to a team of 42 remote professionals across 8 states to ensure the successful delivery of training and technical assistance to Grant Recipients funded by Region IV Administration for Children and Families and by the US Department of Agriculture.

    In other words, I coach and train the team that coaches and trains other program teams, empowering Grant Recipients to remain self-sufficient and exceed federal, state, and other regulations. One of the primary programs we work with is Head Start, which promotes school readiness and provides young children and their families with top-quality services – no matter where they live. As you might imagine, the local Head Start teams often find themselves in tough positions, striving to comply with the stringent federal laws for providing services to low-income, culturally-diverse populations while also meeting their goals of truly serving and supporting their communities. My team’s role is to provide tailored training and technical assistance to empower those teams to cover all the gaps and get the real, vital, community-transforming work done.

    My first exposure to process consulting occurred when the National Center did a broad-perspective training about 6 years ago. The basic tenets and practices resonated and were obviously applicable to both my role and the roles of those on my team who actively support our Grant Recipients, so a couple years ago, as part of our team’s own professional development, we all enrolled together in PCT 101 – and I’m so grateful we did.

    My team walks alongside the Grant Recipients and programs they support, and I, in turn, walk alongside my team. Just as a collaborative, conversational approach empowers our Grant Recipients to buy in and take ownership of their programs, the same approach from me empowers my team to take their roles into their own hands with confidence. I have check-ins with each manager on my team at least monthly and an all-hands monthly team meeting. Depending on the situation it may be a much more continuous dialogue – if they’re new to the field, navigating a particular challenge, or simply in a moment when they need more support. As I’ve moved more and more intentionally into process consulting ways of being and interacting and leading, it has been amazing to see the difference it can make for each of the managers I work with. They visibly shift from being recipients of my training, knowledge, or advice, into being the owners of their own processes. I have gleaned a vast amount of knowledge from each of them. 

    The greatest challenge, of course, has been truly learning to listen – even when I feel I’ve heard it all before. How many times have you had to bite your lip and nod while listening to a friend, spouse, child, or team member talking through an issue they’re facing – that you’ve faced a thousand times, or seen a thousand other individuals face? It can take so much discipline not to blurt out, “Ah, I know this one! Here’s what you need to do.”

    I have held the positions that my staff members now hold, and I have heard similar stories from many of my staff members across 8 states. Intentional listening becomes most difficult when you believe you already know the solution or the process that should occur. But there is so much power in that intentional pause. Of taking a breath, listening deeply, reflecting what you’re hearing, and working with them towards their own clarity and understanding of the problem that can lead to the best process and solution. Sometimes, it turns out, I haven’t heard the issue correctly at all, because my prior experiences clouded my perception. Sometimes, my team members do find their way to exactly the solution I was sure would work – but they find their way there on their own terms, as the owner of that process, with greater confidence and ability that they would have had if I’d just handed them a bandage. If nothing else, process consulting teaches us the fruitful beauty of patience.

  • Wednesday, February 15, 2023 4:24 PM | Hallie Knox

    Dear readers,

    The venerable Dr. Edgar H. Schein, a prolific writer, leader, teacher, and practitioner of Process Consultation, passed away in January at the age of 94.

    I was given the gift of conversation and emails with Dr. Schein (Ed) over the last year as we introduced him to the Society for Process Consulting:  who we are, what we do, and how he might be more involved.  He always asked good questions, critical questions, and I certainly learned a lot from him. These early steps in developing a relationship with him now seem cut short much sooner than we would have liked:

    …We showed him examples of how his seminal work, and more recent work, are incorporated in the Society’s curriculum, rich with examples of his legacy on organizational development and a different type of consulting – “humble inquiry” as he called it in one of his books co-written with his son Peter Schein.

    …We also shared the manuscript with him of Listening, Helping, Learning: Core Competencies of Process Consulting, a book by Mark L. Vincent, with contributors from across the country, for which Ed graciously wrote a testimonial.

    … Lon Swartzentruber, the CEO of Design Group International, had a chance to interview Dr. Schein back in 2020 and a summary of what transpired is shared in a blog post and recording from that time:  The seduction of expertise and other consulting lessons.

    We hope that these efforts to connect with “Ed” will continue to expand his legacy as a massive contributor to the field of process consulting, and in his manner, I can only say how humbled I was to be a part of it.

    In memory of Dr. Edgar H. Schein 1928 - 2023

    Professor Emeritus, MIT Sloan School of Management & Author with Peter Schein of Humble Inquiry, rev.Ed. (2021), Humble Leadership (2018), and Humble Consulting (2016)

  • Sunday, December 04, 2022 10:37 PM | Hallie Knox

    Our current member spotlight falls on Genyne Edwards, JD. Co-founder of P3 Development Group, Edwards is a sought-after thought leader and the recipient of many awards, including the 2021 Milwaukee Business Journal’s Diversity in Business Award. Edwards is an Executive Process Consultant and hands-on facilitator and practitioner in the areas of organizational development, communications, and DEI. She was instrumental in the creation of the Society’s pilot PCT 102 program, designed specifically for consultants of color through a partnership with the African American Leadership Alliance Milwaukee (AALAM). Read on for her reflection on the timely and necessary components of process consulting in her work and in today’s world.

    We are only as good as the listening that we do.

    Extrapolate that statement however you want – I’ve found it applies to relationships, professional efficacy, personal development, and more. Most of all, I’ve found it to hold true in my work with clients. Throughout my time as an attorney and a consultant, I’ve seen how powerful a truly good question can be, as long as the answer is deeply heard and reflected upon with intention. Listening is the bedrock of the practice.

    A few years back Kim Stezala, CEO of the Society for Process Consulting, reached out to me with an invitation to participate in an all-day session focused on talking through the urgent need to diversify the consulting field. A lot of discussion and a lot of listening later, my co-founder Dominique Samari and I were involved in creating an approach to supporting people of color interested in process consulting. We partnered with the African American Leadership Alliance Milwaukee (AALAM) to run a PCT 102 cohort for 8 amazing leaders with an incredible array of backgrounds and skills. There’s a whole population of black and brown leaders out there interested in diving into consulting, and we were able to be a part of these individuals’ stories because we listened, we collaborated, we reflected - and we responded adaptively to what we heard. If you strive to support change, however large or small, in any arena, you have to start by listening.

    More and more the world is moving towards a greater understanding and appreciation of consultants who model co-creation, act as “guides on the side,” and emphasize the client’s centrality and lead role in the process. You’ll still get pushback from some clients who are looking for an expert to swoop in and “fix” things, but in general you’ll find that people understand they live in a deeply complex world that simply does not contain quick and easy solutions. They’ve been listening. People may always have trouble being “helpable,” but there is a slow-down that is happening – a growing awareness that something has to change, especially in conversations around both diversity, equity and inclusion and environmental, social and governance – and we can be a part of those conversations if we step into our clients’ processes with our eyes and ears wide open.

    You can’t turn on the TV today without seeing an environment and culture rife with polarization, complexity, ambiguity, and conflict. More than ever, there is a need for sensitivity towards people who are unlike us as our surroundings and conversations shift. There is a need for change, not just in group settings, but on an individual level as well – there will be no organizational change without buy-in from the individual managers, or without engagement and modeling from the CEO. What tools are available for individuals and organizations interested in engaging in change in the midst of all the chaos and conflicting voices? Collaboration. Conversations. Listening.

    I learned about appreciative inquiry and design thinking long before I ever heard the term “process consulting,” but the tools I’ve gained through my involvement with PCT 102 have allowed me to increase the efficacy of my work on a practical, daily level. Beyond that, process consulting has connected me with a network of like-minded leaders who are having conversations that matter. It has placed me in a community of listeners. What could be more impactful than that?

  • Monday, October 24, 2022 9:08 AM | Hallie Knox

    This blog post was originally written for and published by the Christian Leadership Alliance. Mark L. Vincent created this blog by adapting an excerpt from his recent book, Listening Helping Learning: Core Competencies of Process Consulting.

    In recent years the work of Ed Schein began to distinguish between the expertise and knowledge often plied as the trade of consulting, and the more iterative method of bringing curiosity and co-creating the needed work with the Client. What is known as the field of Process Consulting began emerging and charting a different trajectory. With recent stories of traditional consulting firms upselling their Clients, the difference between these styles of consulting has never been more starkly painted. Here are a couple of definitions that can help paint the difference for anyone leading a ministry or non-profit that intends to acquire an outside consultative perspective.


    A general term. It can mean almost anyone who thinks they have something to offer by selling one’s time or intellectual property. From a Client perspective “Consultant” might mean anyone other than an employee retained for a specific task or access to intellectual property.

    Process Consultant

    Someone experienced in being a thought partner alongside a Client. They ask iterative design questions and develop with a Client a sequence of steps the Client intends to follow to address their objectives. Process Consultants can be recognized by their listening posture, their helping partnership, and their ongoing learning with the Client as the expression of Client service.

    Process Design

    The activity of designing with a Client so that a sequence of steps emerges that a Client pursues in addressing their stated objectives. The design work is primarily accomplished through robust answers to the iterating questions WHY, WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and HOW.


    The organization that retains the Process Consultant, as well as the people of that organization.  “Client” is capitalized to signify that it refers to this intersection of people and their organization. This intersection is where the Process Consultant is found listening, helping, and learning.

    With these definitions in front of us, here is a little more about Process Consulting.

    More on Process Consulting

    Moving beyond raw data toward wisdom is a journey. Much gets discarded or distilled along the way.

    • We sift raw data so it can be shared as information.
    • Information is then rendered and sequenced to pass along to others as knowledge.
    • Knowledge successfully and repeatedly applied in a variety of contexts become recognized expertise.
    • Expertise analyzed, broken down, put back together, combined with other expertise, and then folded into an intuitive and non-anxious, creative forward leap; is one way we recognize wisdom.

    Going Deeper

    The journey from mere advising to the deeper wisdom of Process Consulting follows a similar path.

    • Advising in general is dispensing perspective whether it is useful, or not. Someone has a data point, and they choose to share it. An Advisor Tells.
    • Intellectual Property tends to be this same perspective organized for publication and dissemination, which increasingly gets labeled as Content. Content is either for general consumption, available for a consumer’s purchase or is an add-on resource tied to a Client engagement. An Expert sells.
    • Subject Matter Expertise, what we might also be describing as contracting or serving as a vendor, is that same Intellectual Property applied with a specific Client and for that Client’s context.  A Subject Matter Expert sells and tells or tells and sells.
    • Consulting connects multiple lines of subject matter expertise to address a Client’s unique need for change, often at a technical level.  The Consultant chooses between tools, assessments, or other processes to get at what the Client needs to do. Consultants sell, assess, tell, then sell again.
    • Process Consulting joins with the Client in not knowing what to do exactly, especially as the Client faces adaptive and/or complex change. The Process Consultant brings a non-anxious curiosity alongside the Client to design with the Client the steps (the process) they will follow to go from where they believe they are to where they choose to go. The Process Consultant asks, “what do you need to do?” followed by “what are you willing to do?”  In partnership with the Client, the Process Consultant listens, then helps, and then learns.

  • Thursday, September 15, 2022 10:14 AM | Hallie Knox

    This month’s member spotlight falls on Dacia Coffey, Certified Process Consultant and author of Corporate Caffeine. As the CEO of The Marketing Blender, a B2B sales and marketing alignment agency, Dacia helps clients transform their brand, revenue growth, and business development machine. She enthusiastically implements a process consulting approach in all of her work - read on to learn more. 

    The historical approach to branding and marketing is a compartmentalized thing - there’s a clear and firm dividing line between the client and the person making the magic. Pay no attention to the “man behind the curtain,” just pass over your marketing goals and they will get the job done, whether you know about it or not! 

    We at The Marketing Blender may have been guilty of starting out that way, but it didn’t take long to see the trend: when we worked with clients who welcomed or even initiated a collaborative creative process, getting deeply involved and partnering with us throughout our time together, the outcomes were simply better. The process was richer and more enjoyable for everyone involved, and more insights naturally arose during the process.  

    Huh, we thought. What if we started doing that on purpose? 

    We didn’t have a name for what that was, at the time. But we changed how we delivered across the board and stepped into a system of deeper inquiry and cooperation. As one example, we set up prerequisite workshops that were client-facing and highly collaborative, where we walked our clients through every step of our process. As their understanding and buy-in increased, client satisfaction went up. We started offering market plans - mapping all the connections between the many tactics involved in a marketing strategy - and we saw a decrease in instances of clients taking the tools we created for them and immediately breaking them. That focus on the strategic process, rather than a superficial list of tactics isolated from a larger picture, became a part of the culture for our 16-person team.  

    When I participated in the Process Consulting Training 101 through the Society, something incredible happened. I had a blind spot uncovered. It was one I may not have engaged with for years on my own. For the first time, someone really spelled it out for me: organizational and individual impact can happen at the same time. The typical model of an insulated, coldly professional client relationship had continued to cause me frustration and friction, and the training blew that framework right out of the water. There was exponential value in this new idea - that diving into the topics of leadership, culture, operations, and an individual client’s thoughts and feelings along the journey was essential to the customer experience.  

    There were a few other concepts from that training that have stayed with me and profoundly impacted my work ever since: 

    1. Humble inquiry. Oh, this one is so important. Humility is misunderstood by so many people. The reality is that confidence is humility’s twin. Whether you “sell it” that way or not, you are being hired for your brain power, your skillset, your experience, your unique abilities, and you have to cross a trust chasm before anyone will pay you for something intangible. Partnering humble inquiry with your confidence creates so much amazing space in client relationships. It gives you permission to lean into your confidence in a quieter, more comfortable, more real way. You don’t need smoke, mirrors, and posturing to convince your clients to partner with you. A humble question will impart more assurance than any amount of bluster and razzle dazzle. (For more on the concept of humble inquiry, check out Dr. Edgar Schein’s book of the same name.) 

    2. The focus on process. Beyond the impact an attitude of humble inquiry can have on your client relationships, it is also a far truer method for “finding the answer” than any other I’ve found – because the answer is the process. For all the confidence you may have in your knowledge and experience, in the end you are not selling anyone “your answer.” You are offering them your questions, your methods of exploration. You are inviting them to participate in a journey, with you acting as inquirer and guide. You are acknowledging you don’t hold the solution and assuring them of the value that will come through asking powerful questions in partnership.  

    3. Lifelong learning. This was a piece of our company history already – constantly striving for a better way. Today, being a learner by nature is a part of our hiring criteria. It’s also what we deliver. “You don’t get to be done with this, EVER,” we tell our clients. “Marketing has no finish line!” Some people may find that exhausting, but we can flip that. It’s in our mission statement: we see it as having a domino effect of positivity. When you implement lifelong learning into how you deliver, this beautiful virtuous cycle occurs. How wonderful is it to remember that there’s always more to do? 

    And, speaking of lifelong learning. I took my learning from PCT 101 home, digested it, applied it, and implemented it with my team. We stepped into a new way of doing marketing, and tore down that curtain so our clients could see exactly how the magic works. We have been doing that, on purpose, ever since. 

  • Wednesday, August 31, 2022 9:27 PM | Hallie Knox

    Learning and knowing are overlapping postures. Overlapping, rather than either separate or identical. We can't know unless we learn. We can't learn without at least some awareness that we do not know. 

    But here is the difference: learning implies an ongoing desire to know while knowing does not necessarily mean a continuing desire to learn.

    If someone's basic posture is knowing, they interact with the world through their desire to hoard, teach, sell, or perhaps keep their knowledge a secret. A person becomes too busy talking or feeling smug to stop, look, listen, and learn.

    If the basic posture is learning, however, a person interacts with the world through their desire to listen, study, reflect, purchase, gather, and synthesize. They are moving more deliberately and openly and cannot help but learn.

    Can you feel this difference?

    For many of us in Process Consulting, our journey of moving into the world and trying to influence it based on our expertise gave way to this conscious development of a deliberate, restrained, and non-anxious presence. We hold space with a Client while we listen to a problem or opportunity together. We determine what help looks like and co-design a process to address it. We then have the opportunity to learn together. 

    The knowing approach can be a way to convey technical, fixed knowledge, yet it cannot adequately address adaptive changes because it resists ongoing discovery. It's too busy talking to listen and observe. Taking the learning approach, however, people notice things they would otherwise miss. They ask, What do we have here? Observing unexpected things is where differentiations come from that become new to the world products, innovative service offerings, and on rare occasions, a solution that makes an enormous problem disappear. We don't get to the new by knowing but through our openness to learn. 

    The simplest expression of the twelve core competencies of Process Consulting is via the three categories of listening, helping, and learning. They are often identified in this order because of how they build into each other, just like nesting dolls do. Deep listening invites the Client to join in and begin listening to itself. The Process Consultant and the Client are now joined together in rendering and carrying out what help looks like. Along the way, everyone learns. It is a sticky learning that can be offered to those who come after us, rather than proprietary learning, where we prevent others from knowing unless it can be sold because we think this knowledge belongs to us. 

    For this once, however, let's reverse the order. A partnership of learning with the intention of the world's flourishing can only happen because there is a communal effort to help figure it out.

    And the trust needed to figure it out jointly is possible because of the trusted relationships that grow from the time invested in listening to one another.

    P.S. Here is yet one more way to consider these categories of competencies:

    • Learning builds a common future while knowing only celebrates the individual's past.
    • Helping brings widespread communal accomplishment while performing seeks the momentary spotlight. 
    • Listening invites many voices while telling seeks many ears.

  • Sunday, August 14, 2022 7:21 PM | Hallie Knox

    Our member spotlight for August falls on Annie Laing, entrepreneur and Advanced Process Consultant. Annie recently established her own coaching and consulting business, The Minded Spaces, and has a passion for helping small businesses and nonprofits align their internal processes to allow for growth and a thriving internal culture. Annie is currently based in the DFW Metroplex in Texas.

    Remember the feeling of pulling Elmer’s glue off your fingers as a kid? Kicking a perfect goal in a soccer match? Managing to get a tangerine peel off all in one perfectly spiraling piece? These little experiences all fall into one category in my mind – they’re satisfying.

    For me, there are few things more satisfying than solving a problem. I love puzzles, and I love sticking it out through an interpersonal challenge to get to the “aha” moment. My past work had me coordinating between executive teams, and I had a million opportunities to see the impact a simple process tweak could have. Have you ever stepped into a space full of people churning too hard without getting the desired results; identified the spot where a process was missing, wrong, or just no longer serving its purpose; guided the team towards a simple, achievable solution; and watched their success supply them with the momentum they needed to keep bounding ahead? In coaching we call that “aha” moment the ‘spark of insight.’ As someone whose passion is people, there is nothing more satisfying than watching that spark take root and create serious positive change for someone, or for a team or organization full of someones.

    I love being a creative, puzzle-brained problem-solver. My ability to see how processes fit together (or don’t) and my drive to create solutions to problems, along with my love of the people depending on those processes – these are part of what make me who I am. It was an absolute gift to find out that, through the Society for Process Consulting, I could get certified to do my all-time favorite thing of helping people solve problems together. Who’d have thought?

    The learning curve for me has been the posture of humble listening. I am continually learning to suppress the urge to point out what I perceive as a quick fix in order to make way for the truer, better, most gratifying solution that will come later on – the one found through partnership, powerful questions, and humble listening. I understand that the impact of a collaborative problem-solving process will resound far longer than any quick-fix solution I could whip up on my own (even if it were a good solution!). You won’t understand the true gift of the process unless you first walk alongside the team with the disciplines of humility and being a slow-to-speak, discerning listener. It’s a professional challenge that I enjoy, and the joy of problem-solving is multiplied tenfold at the conclusion of that listening and learning process.

    Here are the most powerful tools I’ve found toward that end so far:

    ● Before you step into any interaction as a process consultant, remind yourself: My greatest strength is not my expertise or my problem-solving skills. It is my ability to be here as an active and humble listener, reflecting my client’s own situation back to them as a guide.

    ● You still get to own your expertise, your knowledge, and your skills. Those don’t disappear, but they certainly do not take center stage. In general, you’ll be in the background using all your awesome skills and expertise to point the spotlight, quietly rotate the set, and coordinate the microphones in support of the main player – your client – as they work their way through their own story.

    ● ALWAYS start with the “Why.” You can step into a room full of people willing to duke it out over the “What” and the “How,” but through powerful questions and deep listening you’ll find their agreement on the “Why” almost every time. Once they all remember they are on the same team with a shared mission, the work can truly begin.

    ● Stay challenged. I hope I never quite perfect the skills of humble listening and asking powerful questions. I hope to invest in this learning process for the rest of my life.

    With process consulting as your framework, it’s a joyful challenge to create solutions to problems with others. What could be more satisfying?

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