After reading Block’s article on “Risk is Where You Find It” I now have a greater respect for those who serve in the role of “consultant”. In many instances they are the agents of change and as such must confront the human response to the dynamics of change. It occurs to me that that is not a job for cowards.
“The wish on the part of the client, then, is to find a safe, low-risk way to change. The wish on the part of the consultant is to provide it. Unfortunately, neither wish can come true.”
…”The last response the consultant should choose is to accept the risk at face value and to think it can be reduced or eliminated. Looking for ways to minimize risk is a form of collusion. It is yielding to our own doubt and backing away from our own vulnerability.”
Block (2001, p. 14)
Schein (1999, p. 127) presents the Johari Window as a model for gaining greater insight into communication between the client and the consultant.
Copyright Alan Chapman, 2003 and www.businessballs.com
I also find it helpful in understanding people’s response to change. I rather see change as somewhat of a “crucible” in my own life. When I am confronted with change, my response often indicates an area or areas in which I have either deliberately or unknowingly hidden from myself and/or others. When this becomes obvious, I must then make the choice of whether or not to deal with the revelation, confront the change and allow it to mold me in the process; all the while dealing with the fear that the change may wipe me out altogether. I have experienced many seasons of change in my life and not once have I wiped out (yet). In fact, I have repeatedly witnessed how change has often been character building. Like many others, I would prefer to gain character without having to experience the crucible of change. I’m all for gain with no pain. But much like the consultant’s client, I find that the rewards of change simply do not come without having to confront the risks of change.
It is with this understanding that the consultant must carefully, yet courageously confront the client with their discoveries and recommendations. Helping a client successfully navigate the difficult experience of change has to be a very rewarding way to make a living. If you are looking for routine and safety in the workplace, consulting is probably not a good fit. On the other hand, if you enjoy the risks and rewards of helping people confront and overcome challenges which lead to greater potential, then the crucible of change may be just the place for you.