23 October 2005

Power of the Trustworthy 3rd Party

The consulting job with our current client is turning out to be one big interesting story. Today I was invited to observe a meeting that never took place in the organization before.. all managers handling different business units under one corporate umbrella came together to talk about how best they could cut expenses of their company as if it were only one unit of business instead of several.

I saw something nothing short of what simulated the Hawthorne Effect, i.e. people's behavior changing as a result of an external factor that happened to be there (when it usually isn't there everyday). I believe I was that external factor. The trustworthy 3rd party. Never before had the 'black sheep' raised his voice before this so intensely, wanting to have a say in making a difference to a key business strategy, that of cost-cutting.. first off, the 'black sheep of the family' had the courage to call this meeting and nobody had a clue why he had called it and it was out of curiousity that everyone showed up promptly. It makes me realize how simple some things can be.. if you want something answered, just ask.

What ensued then on can only be described as the first real boost to the change effort we are going to implement for this company. Knowing there is a trusted party to help them achieve things they were having trouble doing on their own, these managers got to the bottom of of some very pressing issues they faced as a team (if you can call it that right now!) My presence as an outsider was enough to bring about a calm sense of "let's do this" in the room. I very much look forward to tomorrow when we meet with the team leaders as a group, and watch Mr. Yogi work more magic. Cannot wait to document the change!

The goal of a consultant should always be to take on the role of a guide and let the team function independently with self-confidence. The power of one person changing the chemistry of the group can be so significant, that it is no wonder why Mr. Yogi always taught me that the consultant IS the tool itself. That is why we deserve the big bucks. No survey or instrument does what a trustworthy and competent external practitioner can do for the core existence of an organization.

The room full of ten people experienced what was never seen before:
-- The 'black sheep' calling the shots
-- Managers genuinely agreeing on things when they usually didn't even bother getting together for more than 5 minutes
-- Other key employees present at the meeting getting to voice their points on specific processes for the first time, being given a platform to participate rather than just to follow orders

There are obviously certain issues that did surface and this is where a consultant facilitates. I will not get into them here because we must always remember the positives as "Appreciative Inquirers". I just sat and listened, observed their interactions, got a sense of what they feel about each other, and most importantly what made them make the effort:
1. An external trustworthy presence
2. The sheer desire to grow in that particular area
3. They got an initial push by knowing about the proposed change effort. Sometimes all you need is a gentle push so they can take the first step.

So tomorrow we talk with the team about the broad topics they want our help with. And after today's meeting, I am sure they all are going to sleep on their ideas bursting inside them.


Blogger Chandrakanth said...


Dear Mubeena and Robin,

Tell me why managers behaved with the highest goodness in the meeting? Why the management interested to cost cut? What is the space-time root of all these developments? Do you think OD can answer all these things? Knowledge can only analyze, but TRUTH knows everything. Knowledge is limited in itself, but not the wisdom of TRUTH.

If you give right answer without expecting anything in returns I will give an unpredictable INPUT to uplift your organization into the height of heaven.

Chandrakanth Natekar

October 26, 2005 2:25 PM  
Anonymous chandrakanth said...

Once more sorry! Please change the name "Robin" as "Roland Sullivan".

October 27, 2005 3:54 AM  

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