Peter Block on consulting

I revisited an old acquaintance this morning — a chapter in Peter Block’s classic, Flawless Consulting.

The “flawless” part didn’t always sit well with me, but Block sees consulting flawlessly as:

  • Being as authentic as you can be at all times with your client
  • Attending directly, in words and actions, to the business at each stage of the consulting process.

Block sees three possible roles for a consultant:

  • The expert, in which the consultant is a specialist in some area. The manager has “neither the time nor the inclination” to solve the problem at hand. In general the manager is inactive; most control is with the consultant.
  • The pair of hands, in which the consultant is essentially carrying out orders and following the analysis done by the manager.
  • The collaborator, in which the consultant and the manager work together to solve a problem. In this case, both parties are partners in addressing the problem.

Block provides checklists and other tools for helping define and guide the consulting relationship. It’s been a while since I dipped into this book, but I always benefit when I do.