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Fearless Consulting: Temptations, Risks and Limits of the Profession

Fearless Consulting: Temptations, Risks and Limits of the Profession

Erik de Haan

ISBN: 978-0-470-03279-4 June 2006 228 Pages




The history of consulting dates back to the original ‘intervention’ of the serpent in the Garden of Eden, and today's consultants have just as dubious a reputation. They are tempted by flattery and over-assessment of their abilities, and run the risks of uncertainty, responsibility without authority and loss of control. In order to steer a middle course, they must understand their own intention as consultants. Fearless Consulting clearly demonstrates that, in spite of the many risks and temptations, consultants can approach their profession and clients fearlessly, and offers a range of philosophical inspirations for readers as well as specific intervention models and practical methodologies.


Prologue: Characteristics of Consulting.

1 Characteristics of the Entry.

2 The Entry and Fearless Speech.

Communicating advice.

Four forms of argumentation.

Forms of argumentation for consultants.

The fearless consultant.

Fearless speech under pressure.


3 Characteristics of Joint Problem Formulation.

4 Problem Formulation and Irony.

Ambiguous communication.

What is irony?.

Two divine examples of irony.

The ironic consultant.

Irony as an instrument for change.

Irony and the concept of fate.


5 Characteristics of Intervening.

6 Intervening and Power.

Intervening means stepping in.

The focus of interventions.

The art of intervening.

The powerless consultant.


7 Characteristics of Consolidating.

8 Consolidating and responsibility.

The responsibility of the consultant.

Why does anything come about?.

Authority and responsibility.

The non-responsible consultant.


9 Characteristics of Departure and letting go.

10 letting go and Tragic Consulting.

The consultant as committed outsider.

The chorus in Greek tragedy

The tragic consultant.

What pleasure does a tragedy give?.


Epilogue: Twenty Minutes in the life of a Consultant.

The invitation.

Observations prior to the conversation.

The conversation as it took place.

The conversation as it did not take place.

Observations following the conversation.

The follow-up conversation.

Appendix A.

Appendix B.



""...invigorating read..."" (Training and Coaching Today, May 2006)

""...enliven[s] what is a rigorous academic treatment of the client advisory process..."" (The Professional Manager, June 2006)