Discussion forum for members of the Massachusetts Bay Organizational Development Learning Group

Friday, May 19, 2006

Report from Facilitation Teleclass

As one of the winners of last month's prize, I agreed to post my thoughts from the Teleclass on Facilitation offered by Roger Schwarz. He sent out a case and some slides of the model he used beforehand. He reviewed these on the call and then took questions and cases of difficult situations from participants.

He advocated a Mutual Learning Model, and most of his advice was the fundemental and yet still radical idea of saying out loud what you observe going on and letting the group see why you are doing what you are doing.

Below are the notes:

Facilitator Training Notes from Schwarz Teleclass May 16, 2006

How We Contribute to Our Clients' Challenges - and How to Change That

Applying models from Chris Argyris

Espoused theory - the way we say we interact

Theory-in-use – what you actually do - often theory that we’re unaware of

90% of us design our behavior based on values that get us what we don’t want

Unilateral Control Model (UCM) (Model One in Argyris work)

2nd slide – UCM

example of facilitating to get someone talking too much to talk less, by cutting him off, saying we want to hear from others, and we’ll come back to you (but not really)

3rd slide – Mutual Learning model

How do I get all of the info out so that group can make informed free choice with their commitment, and compassion?

So speak up and say to person who is talking more frequently that others “Jeff, I notice that you’ve been speaking each time any other person speaks and that you’ve been talking for a longer period of time – is that right?” “I also notice that Sara and Ron have been rolling their eyes when Jeff has spoken the last 2 times, am I right?” “So I’m wondering if you all have some concerns about Jeff’s participation – am I right?”

You’ve got some sort of contract with the group to make these kind of interventions – let them make an informed free choice to engage in this kind of interaction

3 principles with Mutual Learning Model:

Curiosity – remain curious, not wedded to my interpretation

Transparent – about what I’m thinking and why I’m doing what I’m doing

Accountability – expecting each person to be accountable for this behavior and I’m accountable for mine

We often collude with our clients ahead of time about the “difficult person” and we agree to “manage” them for the client instead of inviting them to take accountability and do it in a mutual learning model.

Talk to the client ahead of time and respect their informed free choice

Transparency – let your clients know why you’re doing what you’re doing

Think about how you could say it out loud and how that would sound – unilateral control stuff will sound crazy, but mutual learning will sound okay

Question from participant: How to build the trust needed for this?

Roger answers: The general assumption is that you need to have trust with the client first to use this, but Roger says that using this approach is what builds the trust with the client

Trusting yourself enough – stems from ability to trust the process and be willing to try it to see how it works

Examples from participants:

She finds herself in situations where she feels like she made a mistake and how to get back on track

Meeting of leadership support of a specific team – one person was talking about her individual feelings vs. the team

She felt like she should have intervened to check in with the team

She did not intervene – why? – b/c she wanted the individual to talk and was concerned about her, felt blinded to the rest of the group

Roger suggested that she could have said all of this out loud in the group

How to be curious and compassionate when questioning someone rather than thinking about it as challenging them.

Remember that they have the ability to make an informed free choice to not participate.

If there’s an underlying assumption that the people are there not under their own choice, but b/c the boss made them come – how to surface that assumption and discuss it

Avoid as facilitator becoming the central repository of information by meeting separately with individuals. Let the group be the repository of information.

Have others there to give you feedback in the moment to catch you when you go toward unilateral control model

Or talk to people beforehand to strategize options beforehand

Or listen to recordings of yourself afterwards to notice patterns, then work on those patterns

Offer 2 teleclasses a month – 1 is free

Radical and powerful approach to nonverbal behavior in groups is the next theme.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Jump Start Your Consulting Session 4

Jump Start Your Consulting with Bruce Katcher of The Discovery Group

Session 4

This week, our topic was Sales, the bugbear for many consultants.

Q: How do you get round gatekeepers?

A: Consider what could be in it for them. How could you make them look good? Remember that you have to get to decision makers/people with budgets. It takes time to build the relationship and build credibility.
Transaction vs relationship selling – it is more likely that you’ll be invited in if you do the latter.

Q: How do you know when it’s over and you haven’t made the sale?

A: Recognize clear signs (send me the literature etc). Bruce found that a course in sales training was useful for him – workshops on different topics, cds, immersion – try things out.

Q: How do you run sales calls efficiently?

A: Some principles:
• Up front contract – clarify ahead of time – how much time do we have together? During this meeting, this is what I hope will happen, at the end of that time, if it makes sense for us to work together, I’ll…..ask you to sign/write a proposal…are you prepared to do that? I want to know, yes or no. Let me know if you don’t think there is a good match. Could you agree to that? (This approach works for warm/qualified conversations where you have already prepare the ground).
• In some businesses, go for the close at the end of the hour. Have some sort of agreement. At the very least, you should end with “What is the next step?” - get them to say what they expect.

Q: What are the 3 things you should know about every prospect?

A: They lie.
They don’t often tell the truth
They lie.
So, get them to make little agreements as you go along.

Q: What is the “negative reverse”?

A: It is a selling technique analogous to a clock pendulum – push back to 9 and it’ll come back to 3, not 6.
“We don’t have a lot of money.” “Ok, but I’m expensive. You probably don’t want to talk to me.” They may say ok and walk away. More commonly, they come back. Maybe we can find some money. High risk strategy, but effective. Alternative reply: “If you want low cost, no frills, I can recommend someone else. I’m quality/can save you money/will give you stuff they can’t etc” is the basis of your argument and can be implicit or explicit.

Q: Should you bring lots of samples to show what you can do?

A: No. The focus of the meeting must be on them not on you.

Q: How should you handle the hardest questions in any sales call – “Tell me about your firm and what you do. What’s your philosophy? What’s your track record?”

A: These are questions to put you on the spot. Change the dynamic – you want them to talk. Answer – “That’s a good question, I’ve not been asked that before. Tell me why you are asking that? What is important for you? What has gone wrong? What do you want to avoid? What are your challenges? Fears?” Be brief about yourself: “I’m so and so, done such and such – we try and find needs, solve problems…” and turn it around immediately. You must get them to talk so that they will reveal objections etc. Remember, it’s all about THEM.

Q: What kind of audiovisual equipment do you need?
A: Nothing. Come with a list of questions. You want to probe, find out about them, what makes them tick, what do they want? Try and meet face to face with people. And ask open ended questions, such as: “What are your objectives? How will you know this is successful? What do you think the challenges will be to make this work?”
Elicit desired RESULTS and FEARS. Then address these in your proposal – your approach is based on their identified fears.

Q: What is the most productive selling mindset?

A: Play the game. See it as a process. Come with a point of concentration – you have a state of mind that is curious and inquisitive – you want to learn things – ask dumb questions. Have a mind set, don’t anticipate what they want. What do they really need? What would be helpful to them? Find out if they are looking for expertise or for implementation. Maybe they just want something less sophisticated.
Turn things so you have control again – you must be asking the questions. You won’t know what you need to fix or change.

Q: What should you avoid?

A: Chasing. When you have met with a lead, don’t call over and over. Sometimes it works, but usually it doesn’t. It is bad for price negotiations. Draw your own limits. Sit tight. Show yourself more respect than prospect is showing you. Spend time and energy on looking for others. Leave message –“It sounds like it wasn’t the right time, I won’t bother you again.” Don’t be angry, and don’t guilt trip them. If the circumstances are right, you might ask them to give you feedback on the process “…it will help me with my next opportunity”.

Q: What are good indirect selling techniques?

A: Remember that loose connections are often more powerful than your closest friend. Networking, picking the right environments, volunteering, being out there – all eventually bring business.

Lunch was Italian in inspiration. Calorie laden eggplant parmesan with a thick crust of melted cheese and deep red tomato sauce, accompanied by a Caesar salad (well, Roman emperors are Italian, in a sense!). Dessert was a selection of anise pizzelle, cannoli and pignoli, picked up from her local bakery by one of our group who is a long standing resident of the North End. A little prosecco would not have gone amiss, but sparkling water did just fine to round off our hearty Friday afternoon fare.


Fredia Woolf
Woolf Consulting

Contact me at: fwoolf@woolfconsulting.com

Thursday, May 11, 2006

What is the role of "tools" in OD practice?

Our May 10 program meeting was “OD Toolbox III”. Reviving a format we used in March 2001 and November 2001 and exemplifying the Learning Group tradition of shared learning, we had four presentations of OD tools.

Mindy Fried (who also won our Member Recognition Award) showed us Logic Models, a tool for assessing the effectiveness of a program or an intervention.

Steve Ober illustrated the Kantor Four Player model, which is based on identifying the four basic actions that make up the structure of all interactions.

Jim Webber demonstrated a matrix tool for self-assessment by facilitators.

Larry Stybel of Stybel, Peabody and Associates presented an “owner’s manual for managers,” a tool that gets that the data that a 360 degree assessment would get from people who would not go through a 360 process.

Following the presentation, we had a facilitated discussion on what we learned from the presentations and how we could apply such tools in the workplace. One comment that was made was how tools can be used in contexts other than those in which their inventory originally intended. Likewise, it was noted that the true value of such tools often is their role in provoking consideration of issues that otherwise would not been seen as in need of discussion.

Time did not permit more extensive discussion, but fortunately we have this blog as a resource for such further exploration, including contributions by members who could not be in attendance. We’ve framed the Question of the Month to open discussion generally about these and other tools and about part that “tools” play in OD.

I remember in discussing a similar program proposal years ago, a former member, a senior consultant with decades of OD experiences, expressed disapproval. “OD,” he said, “is not about tools”.

I would actually concur. OD is about values. And the most important “tools” in OD practice are authenticity, objectivity, and reflection.

At the same time, OD practitioners do use tools. Since every tool has only limited applicability and potential, there is certainly some truth in the common belief that the more tools one knows, the better practitioner one can be.

What do others think?

Jim Murphy

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Jump Start Your Consulting - Third Report

Jump Start Your Consulting with Bruce Katcher of The Discovery Group

Session 3

This week, our topic was Proposals.

Ideally, you would not need to write one. All you would have is a statement of work, confirming the scope of work that you have already agreed with the client. However, consultants are often asked to write proposals in a competitive bid for business.

A cover letter should outline who you are, which organizations you have worked with (preferably in the same industry), what you offer, what benefits arise from working with you, and what makes you stand out from the crowd.
As for the proposal itself, there was some debate in our group, but here are the commonly agreed essential ingredients:

• Table of Contents (if longer than 3-4 pages)
• Background and objectives – remember to focus on client’s issues, not yours
• Your approach – this may outline every step of the process or could be a broad outline (differences between the maximalists, such as Bruce with his 19 page proposal, and the minimalists, who would go no more than three, with an appendix, if necessary).
• Timeline (it is better to estimate in weeks than set actual dates, because project may be delayed)
• Staffing (no need to hide if you plan to subcontract)
• Fees and expenses (often good to give options, so client can trade off features and price and see you are flexible)
• References (name, title, company, contact details and what you have done for them)
• Optional: Our professional code of ethics
• Signature page

Lunch was a delightful spring meal of poached salmon with spinach pine nut pesto and a side of pasta primavera with a sweet and sour cucumber and pepper coleslaw. We helped ourselves to seconds and thirds and finished the meal with melt in the mouth pecan cookies, baked by one of the members of the group. Can’t wait for next time!


Fredia Woolf
Woolf Consulting

Contact me at: fwoolf@woolfconsulting.com