Volume 1, Issue 2 2007
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Welcome to the Second Issue of the Journal of Practical Consulting
Bramwell Osula
In this issue, we continue our attempt to broaden the definition and understanding of consulting. The articles gathered here reflect on topics that are critical to the practice of consulting: listening, ethics, diversity, and change. As part of JPC's commitment to defining and refining the practice of consulting, I invite you to suggest other themes or perhaps submit articles of your own. In many ways, because they represent a diverse group of professionals and introduce innovative and creative ideas on many different levels, consultants are the heralds or shock troops of organizational and cultural change. JPC hopes to capture some of this dynamism and extend the community of practicing consultants. Enjoy this issue and spread the word!
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Are You Really Listening? Delivering What Your Client Really Wants and Needs
Sarita L. Livit

Often, the solution to a new assignment is derived instinctually from preformed ideas on the nature of the problem and its solution. While consultants are supposedly hired for their knowledge and skills, it is also true that some consultants begin an assignment with a solution in mind. This is long before the problem has been fully examined. These preformed or ready-made solutions create at least two problems. First, they inhibit creativity; and, second, they do not truly address the issue. A one-size problem does not fit all. The greatest skills a consultant can possess are the abilities to approach a job with an open mind, to assemble and decipher appropriate clues, and to actively listen and hear what the client really needs and wants.
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A Brief Examination of the Nature, Contexts, and Causes of Unethical Consultant Behaviors
Benjamin W. Redekop & Brian L. Heath

This article builds on existing published research as well as recent interviews with consultants to explore some of the root causes of unethical behavior by consultants. The authors suggest that the very aims of consulting-aims which are rooted in scientific management and involve making production processes more rational, efficient, and profitable-are potentially in conflict with the treatment of human beings as ends in themselves and not merely as means to others' ends. And, if the primary goal and self-understanding of consulting work is simply to create wealth in the context of short-term relationships-a goal and self-understanding that is also rooted in the origins of management consulting-then unethical behavior can all too easily be the result. Furthermore, because of their position as expert outsiders, consultants can find it relatively easily to manipulate and overcharge clients, while clients can use consultants for their own unsavory purposes. The moral value of duty towards clients and the need to build a trust relationship with them can serve as rationalizations for unethical actions done by consultants on behalf of clients. The article includes suggestions for consultants who want to avoid unethical behavior and enhance the credibility of the profession.

 
Diversity as a Competitive Strategy in the Workplace
Dahlia D. Cunningham & Daryl D. Green

The purpose of this study is to explore diversity issues in a corporate environment through the use of the comparative case study method. Case examples of two companies, IBM and Monitor Company, are evaluated using comparative analysis. The study demonstrates that diversity strategy can have an enormous impact on a company's bottom-line and development. The study is significant because as organizations become more culturally diverse, the ability to efficiently manage this transition will likely result in competitive advantages in the marketplace.

 
The Tower of Babel and the Rally Driver: Understanding and Negotiating through Resistance to Organizational Change
Guy Cohen

Resistance to change can be the single most difficult hurdle that change management practitioners face when working in organizations. Understanding that resistance, as a facet of human interaction, is far more complex than simply an act of X against Y is key to breaking through lines of understanding that are often obscured with political, social, and personal rhetoric. In the paper that follows, the author (an organizational psychologist) discusses two facets of resistance which he considers as fundamental to our understanding of (a) interpersonal, intrapersonal, and organizational narratives and (b) the cycle of change and resistance to it. The author uses a case study to illustrate these points and concludes with a checklist of practical lessons and further questions when encountering resistance to change in the workplace.


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