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Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used, 3rd Edition

ISBN: 978-0-470-62074-8
368 pages
March 2011, ©2010, Pfeiffer
Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used, 3rd Edition (0470620749) cover image


This Third Edition to Peter Block's Flawless Consulting addresses business changes and new challenges since the second edition was written ten years ago. It tackles the challenges next-generation consultants face, including more guidance on how to ask better questions, dealing with difficult clients, working in an increasingly virtual world, how to cope with complexities in international consulting, case studies, and guidelines on implementation. Also included are illustrative examples and exercises to help you cement the guides offered.
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Table of Contents

What’s New? xiii

Acknowledgments xxi

1 A Consultant by Any Other Name . . . 1

Some Definitions and Distinctions 2 / Consulting Skills Preview 6 / The Promise of Flawless Consultation 9

2 Techniques Are Not Enough 13

Beyond Content 14 / The Consultant’s Assumptions 17 / The Consultant’s Goals 19 / Developing Client Commitment––A Secondary Goal of Each Consulting Act 21 / Roles Consultants Choose 22 / Collaboration and the Fear of Holding Hands 27 / Staging the Client’s Involvement, Step by Step 29

3 Flawless Consulting 37

Being Authentic 37 / Completing the Requirements of Each Phase 40 / Results 46 / Accountability 47 / The Right to Fail 49

4 Contracting Overview 51

Contracting: The Concept and the Skill 52 / Elements of a Contract 57 / Ground Rules for Contracting 65

5 The Contracting Meeting 67

Who Is the Client? 68 / Navigating the Contracting Meeting 70/ When You Get Stuck 87 / The Problem with Saying No 95 / Contracting Checkpoint 96 / Selling Your Services: Good Selling Is Good Contracting 98 / The Meeting as a Model of How You Work 102 / Closing the Contracting Meeting 103 / After the Contracting Meeting 104

6 The Agonies of Contracting 107

Dealing with Low Motivation 107 / Ceaseless Negotiation: The Shifting Tide of Your Role 109 / Some Other Specific Agonies 113 / The Virtual World 115

7 The Internal Consultant 121

Important Differences Between Internal and External Consultants 122 / Triangles and Rectangles 124

8 Understanding Resistance 129

The Faces of Resistance 130 / What Are Clients Resisting When They Are Resisting Us? 138 / Underlying Concerns 140 / Sometimes It Is Not Resistance 143 / The Fear and the Wish 143 / Ogres and Angels 147 / . . . And Heroics 148

9 Dealing with Resistance 149

Three Steps for Handling Resistance 151 / Don’t Take It Personally 155 / Good-Faith Responses 156 / Consulting with a Stone 157

10 From Diagnosis to Discovery 159

It Is Still the Relationship That Counts 160 / The Call to Action 163 / The Problem Is Not the Problem 167 / How the Problem Is Being Managed 170 / Flawless Discovery 172

11 Whole-System Discovery 175

Third-Party Consulting 176 / Taking a Whole-System Approach 178 / Your Choice 179 / Putting Whole-System Discovery to Work 180 / The Payoff 182

12 Discovering Gifts, Capacities, and Possibilities 183

When All Else Fails 185 / The Power of Positive Deviance 186 / The Implications of Positive Deviance for Consulting 189 / An Example of What Is Working 190

13 Get the Picture 201

The Steps in Getting the Picture 202 / A Word About Bias 206 / Assessing How the Situation Is Being Managed 207 / The Discovery Interview 210 / Levels of Analysis 211 / Your Experience as Data 214

14 Preparing for Feedback 217

A Clear Picture May Be Enough 217 / Condensing the Data 218 / Some Do’s and Don’ts 219 / Language in Giving the Picture 221 / Presenting the Picture . . . As Courtroom Drama 223 / Support and Confront 225

15 Managing the Meeting for Action 229

How to Present the Picture 230 / Structuring the Meeting 231 / The Meeting for Action, Step by Step 233 / A Recap 241 / Resistance in the Meeting 242 / When Group Members Are at Odds Among Themselves 244 / Modeling the Meeting 246

16 Implementation 249

Choosing Engagement over Installation 250 / Deciding Doesn’t Get It Done 251 / The Limits of Installation 252 / Betting on Engagement 258

17 The Elements of Engagement 261

The Meeting Is the Message 262 / Eight Ways to Engage 263 / The Point 275

18 Teacher as Consultant 279

The Story 280 / Assumptions About Motivating Students 281 / The Reality 282 / Taking a Consultant’s Stance 283 / The Trip to Washington, D.C. 293 / The Choice in the Matter 296

19 The Heart of the Matter 299

Choosing Learning over Teaching 300 / Learning as a Social Adventure 302 / The Struggle Is the Solution 303 / The Question Is More Important Than the Answer 304 / Beyond How 305 / Insight Resides in Moments of Tension 307 / Capacities Bear More Fruit Than Deficiencies 309 / We Are Responsible for One Another’s Learning 311 / Culture Changes in the Moment 312 / If Change Is So Wonderful, Why Don’t You Go First? 313 / The Final Question Is One of Faith 315

Online Appendix: Handy Checklists You Can Use 317

Further Reading 319

About the Author 323

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Author Information

PETER BLOCK is an author and consultant whose work is about empowerment, stewardship, chosen accountability, and the reconciliation of community. He is the author of several best-selling books, including the first two editions of Flawless Consulting, Stewardship, Community, and The Empowered Manager. He is a partner in Designed Learning, a training company that offers his personally designed workshops that help to build the skills outlined in his books.

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Press Release

March 08, 2011
Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used

San Francisco, CA – Our lives are full of profound uncertainty. Permanent vulnerability and uncertainty demand a level of relatedness and thus makes command and control behavior increasingly obsolete. For these reasons, people are functioning more than ever in a consultative stance.

It's been nearly 25 years since Peter Block's FLAWLESS CONSULTING was first published. The book quickly established itself as the "consultant's bible" and became a landmark bestseller that astutely explained how to deal effectively with clients, peers, and others.

This thoroughly revised third edition of FLAWLESS CONSULTING: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used (Jossey-Bass; 978-0-470-62074-8; March 2011) by Peter Block explores the latest thinking on consultation. It includes new insights about how we can organize our consulting around discovering the strengths, positive examples, and gifts of the client organization or community. The book remains a practical and specific guide for anyone who needs to develop a capacity for deeper relatedness and partnership.  

FLAWLESS CONSULTING not only addresses business changes and new challenges since the second edition was written 10 years ago, but also addresses what's on the minds of "next generation" consultants, including:

  • More guidance on how to ask better questions
  • Dealing with a difficult client
  • Working in an increasingly virtual world
  • Dealing with challenges with international consulting
  • More guidelines on implementation
  • More on how to ask good questions
  • Additional case studies

Like the first two editions, FLAWLESS CONSULTING affirms the notion that authentic behavior and personal relationships are the key to business success. By demonstrating their ability to be truly authentic at each step in the process, consultants can aim toward creating workplaces that are more collaborative and ultimately more successful.


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