This book reveals what it takes for consultants of all types, as well as organizational leaders, to be really helpful in dealing with the complex, systemic, constantly changing organizational problems of today. They need to rapidly create a relationship of trust and openness that enables clients, subordinates, and team members to reveal what is really on their minds and to jointly develop a sense of what is the problem and what kind of adaptive response could best deal with it.
Schein first introduced some of these concepts in his foundational 1969 book Process Consultation, which is still in use today. But now clients don't have the time or patience for the endless questioning that characterized much of process consultation. And clients still expect consultants to hand them answers. But Schein has come to realize that answers from outsiders are useless, because they're often working the wrong problem, don't understand the client organization's culture, or ignore the fact that constant change makes today's solutions obsolete tomorrow.
To achieve a joint sense of what to do requires consultants and other helpers to develop a different kind of relationship with clients - a set of attitudes and behaviors that Schein calls humble consulting. Schein shows how helpers can display from the moment of first contact a level of caring and curiosity to move from relationships of professional distance to relationships of personalized trust and openness. And he gives many examples of the profound changes in mindset, behavior, and daily actions that flow from this new helpful consulting model.
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