Organizational Consultation: An Appreciative Approach–VIII. The Consultative Process: Stages 3, 4 and 5

Organizational Consultation: An Appreciative Approach–VIII. The Consultative Process: Stages 3, 4 and 5

William Bergquist

Having built a strong, trusting relationship with one’s client and having reached a  preliminary agreement regarding the nature of their working relationship, usually it is time for the consultant to become better acquainted with the organization and the specific issues that of primary concern to her client. The third, fourth and fifth stages concern this information gathering process, as well as the analysis of this information and the feeding back of the analysis to the client.

Stage Three: Information Gathering

Many consultants—especially those who define themselves as experts—are inclined to bypass the third, fourth and fifth stages of consultation and move immediately to planning and implementing the activity for which they have been hired. Although this neglect may be of little consequence in some instances, most consultants have encountered problems at one time or another because they did not know enough about the client and institution they were serving.

The information collection stage may be elaborate and quite formal or it may be very informal, consisting entirely of a few conversations and notes about organizational environment. The consultant may try just to “get a feel” for the organization by arriving a few hours before the start of a workshop. Under such circumstances, consultants must allow the impressions they form to influence any subsequent action. Consultants should be prepared to change the design of the workshop in response to new information acquired about the institution. Too often, they are not. Strategies for gathering information usually will emerge quite naturally from the questions considered when formulating a consulting contract. Even if clients initially think that information collection is unnecessary, the contracting process is likely to convince them that they need to get a better hold on the convening problem or need before working with the consultant on a specific intervention.


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William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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