I’ve been taking some time off paid work last week to travel to Oakland for a training to hone my consulting skills for social change. Being a consultant is an interesting role:

  • On the one hand, I’m 100% committed to your mission and potential – on the other hand, I will always remain an outsider, bringing a different perspective.
  • I’m bringing valuable expertise and experience from across movements and organizations – and I need to collaborate with you on the details of your context and challenges.
  • Sometimes I provide an additional pair of hands when your work is getting too much – and other times I bring skills and connections that you don’t have available in-house.
  • Just like a good hairdresser, I might be hired to deliver specific tasks – facilitate a meeting here, develop a communications strategy there – and then provide most value through the way I ask questions and engage with you.
  • And when the change needed involves you and your team directly, having help with the process can give you the space to fully focus on the content and interactions required.

It’s been a week full of rich learning. I’m deeply grateful, also to the ten of you who took time out of their busy schedules to provide me with detailed feedback – highlighting strengths like clarity and compassion – and pointing out some areas for improvement. On Facebook, I posted a short summary of eight things I picked up:

  1. Alignment is the key to shifting organizational systems.
  2. Every project, no matter how small, is a chance for transformation.
  3. For change to stick, it must touch upon hearts and minds, behaviours and structures.
  4. Corollary: change can start in any of these areas.
  5. Simply asking for purpose, outcomes, process can be enough.
  6. Showing up with presence, love and power beats any tool and model we might employ.
  7. We’re not having nearly enough courageous conversations to really lift our shared work to the next level.
  8. This doesn’t have to be hard to be powerful.

If you want to read more, start here: introduction to the wheel of change. A useful tool to start understanding an upcoming organisational change process is the wheel of change planning template (pdf).

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