Most of us working in development and change will acknowledge becoming stuck from time to time; a realisation that things are not going to plan AND some uncertainty about what to do. We may even find ourselves behaving in ways that mirror the problems we are trying to address (not using evidence, blaming others, becoming over committed, excluding much needed stakeholders, avoiding analysis and disagreement).
The Abilene Paradox (Harvey 1988) describes a situation in which members of a group agree to a course of action collectively even though each one may prefer to do something else. Consultants can find themselves pulled into thinking and behaving in ways that mirror their clients rather than confront them. None of us are immune. For HR, OD, OE, PM and other specialists working internally, it is even more difficult to step outside dysfunctional dynamics.
Shadow Consulting can help.
The WSK Shadow Consultant listens to the work you are doing with your client and notices what is unquestioned, what is avoided, where there is unexplained commitment or advocacy, and who and what are excluded from/ or over present in your work.
This confidential shadow conversation takes place away from your client, in the ‘back room’ and usually leads to ‘Ah-Ha’ moments that help you reframe your work and make progress. A two/three hour consultation usually has significant impact.
Examples of WSK shadow consulting include:
- Helping external consultants take up their authority and re-contract with parts of a global philanthropy client.
- Helping partners in a coaching consultancy re-negotiate roles, succession and exit.
- Using storytelling to discuss the un-discussable in a project management team.