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Resource-ful Consulting

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Consultants and practitioners working with change can feel at a loss as to how to help their clients move forward. Organisations get stuck in routine ways even when they have innovations in mind. Consultants get stuck in familiar interventions which no longer prove stimulating or effective. Such challenges to practice can preoccupy and reinforce these stuck positions. Drawing on the authors' experiences of working with the professional development of consultants and change-agents over many years, this book provides an asset-based approach to consulting, where the resources to work at this 'stuckness' come from the way that we think about and use ourselves: our Identity and our Presence. The authors propose that developing capacities to recognise and analyse who we bring into our consulting, and how we bring ourselves is central to resource-ful practice. Without a skill-ful integration of these resources, the potential for change can be compromised. In handbook format, the book is structured in seven sections: Potential Space, Identity, Presence, Role Space, Practice, Change, and Future Developments. Focussing on practitioners' preoccupations, the authors offer models, theories, tales and activities to help describe and analyse your Identity and your Presence. They tell stories which question how your Practice supports or compromises change, and suggest playful experimentation as a route to Change, and the development of a more resource-ful approach to your consulting practice.

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14 Chapters

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Chapter One - Potential Space

ePub

Susan Rosina Whittle

We start this chapter by describing the importance of Winnicott's term “potential space” to our work. We explore the significance of play to creative consulting and change and the anxiety that can arise in developing both the true and the false self. The chapter ends with a brief summary of how these ideas influenced the design of The Tavistock Institute Practitioner Certificate in Consulting and Change (P3C), for those interested in the design of professional development programmes.

1.1 Potential space

Taking an experiential approach to change, we embrace Winnicott's concept of “potential space” to inform our thinking and the design of our professional development programmes.

Potential space “refers to an intermediate area of experiencing that lies between fantasy and reality” (Ogden, 1990, p. 203). Potential space originates in the “space between” infant and mother; in the “to and fro” (Winnicott, 1951, p. 55) of the mother as the infant learns what is “me” and what is “not me”; what is the internal world and what the external world. The infant's separation from mother both depends on and requires the child to move between the internal world of fantasy and external reality.

 

CHAPTER ONE Potential space

PDF

CHAPTER ONE

Potential space

Susan Rosina Whittle

W

e start this chapter by describing the importance of Winnicott’s term “potential space” to our work. We explore the significance of play to creative consulting and change and the anxiety that can arise in developing both the true and the false self. The chapter ends with a brief summary of how these ideas influenced the design of The

Tavistock Institute Practitioner Certificate in Consulting and Change (P3C), for those interested in the design of professional development programmes.

1.1 Potential space

Taking an experiential approach to change, we embrace Winnicott’s concept of “potential space” to inform our thinking and the design of our professional development programmes.

Potential space “refers to an intermediate area of experiencing that lies between fantasy and reality” (Ogden, 1990, p. 203). Potential space originates in the “space between” infant and mother; in the “to and fro” (Winnicott, 1951, p. 55) of the mother as the infant learns what is

 

Chapter Two - Identity

ePub

Karen Izod

Rather like airline advice to fit our own oxygen masks before helping others, attending to “who I am” and “who I am not” at any one time is an effective way to think about the rationale behind the idea of developing ourselves as instruments as we engage with colleagues and clients to effect change.

In this section you will find:

The section is interspersed with analytic activities to help you notice and work on your own identity preoccupations.

2.1 Inhabiting identities—what this means

Whenever I am invited to create a brief profile for a client, or upload new information on a social media site, then I am instantly posed with a challenge as to how I describe myself, and which aspects of myself I choose to convey. I need to be comfortable enough in my skin to take up the tasks of consulting to and managing change: doing, thinking, knowing, changing, evaluating. Unlike Jamie Oliver and “The Naked Chef” (1999), I'm not going to refer to myself as “naked”, but nor do I want to be so bundled up in accumulations of identities that I can't be touched by my experiences. I wear my identities on my face, in my clothes, in the way I relate to others.

 

CHAPTER TWO Identity

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CHAPTER TWO

Identity

Karen Izod

R

ather like airline advice to fit our own oxygen masks before helping others, attending to

“who I am” and “who I am not” at any one time is an effective way to think about the rationale behind the idea of developing ourselves as instruments as we engage with colleagues and clients to effect change.

In this section you will find:

• Some ideas about inhabiting our identities—what this means

• Why working with identity is so central to our approach to professional development

• Accounts from organisational consulting and change practitioners as to how identity makes itself felt in our practice, together with theories to help you think about identities in relation to different consulting challenges.

The section is interspersed with analytic activities to help you notice and work on your own identity preoccupations.

2.1 Inhabiting identities—what this means

Whenever I am invited to create a brief profile for a client, or upload new information on a social media site, then I am instantly posed with a challenge as to how I describe myself, and which aspects of myself I choose to convey. I need to be comfortable enough in my skin to take up the tasks of consulting to and managing change: doing, thinking, knowing, changing, evaluating. Unlike Jamie Oliver and “The Naked Chef” (1999), I’m not going to refer to myself as “naked”, but nor do I want to be so bundled up in accumulations of identities that I can’t be touched by my experiences. I wear my identities on my face, in my clothes, in the way I relate to others.

11

 

Chapter Three - Presence

ePub

Susan Rosina Whittle

In this chapter we turn to presence and why it matters. After describing three powerful authority dynamics that shape presence (confidence, competition, and control), we consider intended and unintended presence, and the links between presence and transference. Throughout this section, we invite you to explore what you know about your own presence and whether you are preoccupied with confidence, competition, and/or control.

3.1 Presence matters

Most of us have a day when we work with colleagues, run an event, or encounter a client and think:

“I could have handled that better”.

“I let myself down”.

“Who does he think he is? It was my meeting”.

“I had an off day. They didn't see the best of me”.

“I lost it there. What happened?”

Sometimes, these experiences start to repeat. I begin to notice people responding to me in ways that are surprising or puzzling, perhaps not responding at all. I can identify situations that are “difficult”, perhaps where I lose my confidence and talk too much or too little or where I end up taking the minutes rather than leading the discussion. In these situations, I am becoming aware of a problem with my presence. Perhaps there is a mismatch between how others encounter me and how I think of myself. Maybe I behave as I always do, as others expect me to: speaking out or playing the fool; easily derailed and flustered; always the good cop and never the bad cop.

 

CHAPTER THREE Presence

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CHAPTER THREE

Presence

Susan Rosina Whittle

I

n this chapter we turn to presence and why it matters. After describing three powerful authority dynamics that shape presence (confidence, competition, and control), we consider intended and unintended presence, and the links between presence and transference.

Throughout this section, we invite you to explore what you know about your own presence and whether you are preoccupied with confidence, competition, and/or control.

3.1 Presence matters

Most of us have a day when we work with colleagues, run an event, or encounter a client and think:

“I could have handled that better”.

“I let myself down”.

“Who does he think he is? It was my meeting”.

“I had an off day. They didn’t see the best of me”.

“I lost it there. What happened?”

Sometimes, these experiences start to repeat. I begin to notice people responding to me in ways that are surprising or puzzling, perhaps not responding at all. I can identify situations that are “difficult”, perhaps where I lose my confidence and talk too much or too little or where I end up taking the minutes rather than leading the discussion. In these situations, I am becoming aware of a problem with my presence. Perhaps there is a mismatch between how others

 

CHAPTER FOUR Role space

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CHAPTER FOUR

Role space

Karen Izod

M

any of the practice dilemmas that we are recounting arise from a sense of being trapped in identities that feel constraining, and grappling with a level of authority that doesn’t fit well with the presence that we are trying to bring. As we listen to these stories of practice, then we are in touch with a need for working on an improved sense of space, in ourselves and for our clients, in order to distinguish between:

• Roles that I am given and roles that I am taking

• Now and then, here and there

• Those things that are me and those that I designate as not me.

Working to enlarge and enrich the spaces in which I can operate draws upon my capacities to make sense of my thoughts and feelings, and to regulate them in relation to the behaviours and actions I then attempt. This work which goes on in our inner worlds is a forerunner to working on role.

Role space concerns itself with professional and organisational role, both as an asset to our practice and as a mediator between individual, group, and organisation functioning. Roles can act as the movers of our identities, and the shapers of our presence, and at the same time can impose expectations—the shoulds and oughts of what we do and how we do it. We work with the idea of roles “in the wings” of our practice, there to be taken up and crafted in bringing ourselves to work with the resources afforded by identity and presence.

 

Chapter Four - Role Space

ePub

Karen Izod

Many of the practice dilemmas that we are recounting arise from a sense of being trapped in identities that feel constraining, and grappling with a level of authority that doesn't fit well with the presence that we are trying to bring. As we listen to these stories of practice, then we are in touch with a need for working on an improved sense of space, in ourselves and for our clients, in order to distinguish between:

Working to enlarge and enrich the spaces in which I can operate draws upon my capacities to make sense of my thoughts and feelings, and to regulate them in relation to the behaviours and actions I then attempt. This work which goes on in our inner worlds is a forerunner to working on role.

Role space concerns itself with professional and organisational role, both as an asset to our practice and as a mediator between individual, group, and organisation functioning. Roles can act as the movers of our identities, and the shapers of our presence, and at the same time can impose expectations—the shoulds and oughts of what we do and how we do it. We work with the idea of roles “in the wings” of our practice, there to be taken up and crafted in bringing ourselves to work with the resources afforded by identity and presence.

 

CHAPTER FIVE Practice

PDF

CHAPTER FIVE

Practice

Susan Rosina Whittle and Karen Izod

I

n this chapter, we look at the preoccupations in practice of some of the consultants we have worked with. This is designed to help you to think about your own preoccupations by identifying:

I. What you do usually, those learned routines and safe, tried, and tested practices.

II. What you don’t do usually, because you dare not or cannot and want to.

We use a well known model, the consulting cycle, to explore dilemmas involving identity, authorisation, and presence that tend to occur at different stages of consulting work. These are illustrated by practice vignettes and discussed in relation to some of the thinking and theories we have developed over our professional careers and put to work on the Tavistock Institute

Practitioner in Consulting and Change Programme. First, let’s remind ourselves of why we are preoccupied with preoccupations!

5.1 Preoccupations

Do I use my identity and presence as resources in my work? Am I mind-ful of or mindless about my presence and identity? For those of us working with change, identity and presence need to be assets. They shape the way I consult by bounding my practice, that potential space in which consultant and client meet to work creatively on tasks, address problems, and realise development. As such, identity and presence comprise foundation resources for consultants tasked with developing clients and changing their organisations.

 

Chapter Five - Practice

ePub

Susan Rosina Whittle and Karen Izod

In this chapter, we look at the preoccupations in practice of some of the consultants we have worked with. This is designed to help you to think about your own preoccupations by identifying:

 I. What you do usually, those learned routines and safe, tried, and tested practices.

II. What you don't do usually, because you dare not or cannot and want to.

We use a well known model, the consulting cycle, to explore dilemmas involving identity, authorisation, and presence that tend to occur at different stages of consulting work. These are illustrated by practice vignettes and discussed in relation to some of the thinking and theories we have developed over our professional careers and put to work on the Tavistock Institute Practitioner in Consulting and Change Programme. First, let's remind ourselves of why we are preoccupied with preoccupations!

5.1 Preoccupations

Do I use my identity and presence as resources in my work? Am I mind-ful of or mindless about my presence and identity? For those of us working with change, identity and presence need to be assets. They shape the way I consult by bounding my practice, that potential space in which consultant and client meet to work creatively on tasks, address problems, and realise development. As such, identity and presence comprise foundation resources for consultants tasked with developing clients and changing their organisations.

 

CHAPTER SIX Change: developing resource-ful practice

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CHAPTER SIX

Change: developing resource-ful practice

Karen Izod and Susan Rosina Whittle

6.1 Mind the gap between knowing and doing

There is a huge gap between knowing what to do and knowing how to do it. As a result, many organisational change initiatives fail after a short time. The good intentions formulated in training and development programmes are not sustained. Reading this book will not make you a more resourceful consultant. You need to act; run some experiments; risk doing different things and doings things differently; evaluate the impact and act again.

This chapter focusses on how we can reorganise ourselves for work. Much as we might decide to makeover a room, bringing in new furniture, restyling, and reorienting the room for a different look or feel, then this is about how you can make some changes to the way that you combine aspects of your identity and presence to reorganise and change your practice.

In this chapter you will find:

 

Chapter Six - Change: Developing Resource-Ful Practice

ePub

Karen Izod and Susan Rosina Whittle

6.1 Mind the gap between knowing and doing

There is a huge gap between knowing what to do and knowing how to do it. As a result, many organisational change initiatives fail after a short time. The good intentions formulated in training and development programmes are not sustained. Reading this book will not make you a more resourceful consultant. You need to act; run some experiments; risk doing different things and doings things differently; evaluate the impact and act again.

This chapter focusses on how we can reorganise ourselves for work. Much as we might decide to makeover a room, bringing in new furniture, restyling, and reorienting the room for a different look or feel, then this is about how you can make some changes to the way that you combine aspects of your identity and presence to reorganise and change your practice.

In this chapter you will find:

The term “winging it” has mixed meaning: it can imply getting away with something, faking it, but also being improvisational, trying something out just in time. It comes from the idea of learning your lines in the theatre wings, that space that is in between the front and the back stage. This is where we located role, available in the wings—as props to one's identity and presence, there for the picking and choosing in the moment. Choosing where and how to experiment with change brings its own dilemmas. Do you try something new for the first time with your client, or do you experiment in a safe space with colleagues? Do you only bring tried and tested techniques to your client, and then risk the loss of spontaneity? These are some of the aspects of presence that Susan Rosina Whittle worked with earlier in Chapter Three.

 

Chapter Seven - Future Developments

ePub

Susan Rosina Whittle

This is a book about consulting to organisations—consulting to the tasks and processes of change, where the self is an essential tool of consulting practice. In working through the chapters, we have invited you to get to know yourself better by exploring your:

This chapter invites you to bring together what you have found out about yourself in working through this book. It helps you construct a development agenda against nine essential competencies for using yourself as an instrument. We end by encouraging you to watch out for shame, as a dynamic that can sink your developmental intentions, and to work with the narratives you use to help you tell different and developmental stories about yourself and your consulting practice.

Preparing for the future

In Mind-ful Consulting (Whittle & Izod, 2009), a collection of edited stories from consultants working within the Tavistock tradition, we emphasised a number of practice challenges:

 

CHAPTER SEVEN Future developments

PDF

CHAPTER SEVEN

Future developments

Susan Rosina Whittle

T

his is a book about consulting to organisations—consulting to the tasks and processes of change, where the self is an essential tool of consulting practice. In working through the chapters, we have invited you to get to know yourself better by exploring your:

• Identities—who I am I, and who I am not at any one time

• Presence—how I bring myself to my work and how people encounter me

• Preoccupations—what I am usually in touch with, through my thoughts and feelings, and what I habitually ignore or avoid.

This chapter invites you to bring together what you have found out about yourself in working through this book. It helps you construct a development agenda against nine essential competencies for using yourself as an instrument. We end by encouraging you to watch out for shame, as a dynamic that can sink your developmental intentions, and to work with the narratives you use to help you tell different and developmental stories about yourself and your consulting practice.

 

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