Get new career opportunities as a process consultant12. October 2017 - Emil Zerlang and Gry Guldberg Friis Share this page
As a process consultant, your job is to bring about value-creating and meaningful processes in an organisation. Read on below and get inspired to obtain more in-depth qualifications to help you make a difference in your organisation.
Just because a manager says that something is important doesn’t mean it will automatically lead to a successful result. Duty is a thing of the past, and a key process can quickly run aground due to resistance or indifference from employees who do not understand the meaning behind the process and who are not driven by a sense of duty to make up for it. This should not necessarily be seen as something negative. It is merely an observation that the rules of the game have changed. Employees want to be involved and committed, but that won’t happen on on its own, which is why a skilled process consultant can make a crucial difference.
Processes that create meaning
You may be asking yourself what that crucial difference is. It lies in the consultant’s ability to kick off a process that creates meaning, not just in actual projects, but in everything from holding meetings to the discussions that the consultant helps facilitate.
It revolves around a participatory and inclusive mindset that the process consultant brings into play through a variety of techniques. In my opinion, the difference between that kind of process and a traditional one cannot be underestimated because once you manage to get everyone’s competences and perspectives in the game, you can create lasting, long-term solutions. The value of those kinds of solutions is naturally higher for the organisation, and at the same time it also leads to higher employee satisfaction and more innovation. To use a worn-out cliché: It’s a win-win situation.
A learning organisation
Once you have one or two employees in-house who have learned how to facilitate and manage processes, you have also taken the first step towards a learning culture and thereby a learning organisation. The fact is that a process consultant is capable of something else entirely than a so-called expert consultant, who much like a doctor arrives at a diagnosis and then disappears again. Process consultants, on the other hand, pass on their knowledge to the organisation so that it has the means to arrive at its own diagnoses going forward. This is because process consultants do not provide complete solutions, and the facilitator’s own view of what is going on is secondary.
You could say that the process consultant’s role is to remain neutral, but in contrast to the standard definition – not taking anyone’s side – in this context it has more to do with endeavouring to accommodate all perspectives. A bookkeeper and sales manager both provide important input in the implementation of a change process. The process consultant’s job is to facilitate the development of a shared meaning behind the process, which can lead to more qualified and robust solutions.
“A talented process consultant creates energy, innovation and involvement.”
It is the means by which he or she does this that is crucial.
I meet a lot of people who don’t really understand the difference a process consultant makes. “After all, we also have performance reviews and strategic planning processes,” they say. But the difference lies in the execution. A meeting facilitated by a talented process consultant creates energy, innovation and involvement in a completely different way from traditional meetings, which I believe many of us find tiring and perhaps even dull.
But it can be hard to acknowledge that there is a better way to go about strategic planning processes or holding better meetings because most of us believe we’re quite good at that, after all. It’s an assumption I like to challenge a little, because I believe that a quick survey in the organisation will likely reveal that many employees feel the meetings are long and uniform. That’s what I often find to be the case, at least. Just ask yourself when was the last time you got out of a meeting and thought “Wow, that was a GREAT meeting!”
What can a process consultant do?
A trained and talented process consultant can run everything from a process involving several large groups engaging in dialogue across the organisation to conflict management among managers. It may be a company that is deep in the red and where the management is squabbling and counteracting one another rather than dealing with the actual problem. In that situation, a process consultant would prepare some theories about why the management team is in conflict and subsequently present these to the team.
The process consultant will not have a diagnosis ready to pull out of his or her back pocket, but will instead help the management team solve the problem themselves. This is because the assumption is that the management team is naturally capable of solving it on their own. They just need a little help. And the best part is that the management team has now learned how to deal with the next conflict on their own, as they were involved in the process. They are still the same people as before, but they have just been given the opportunity to reflect on their words and actions.
“A process consultant transfers his or her competences to the involved parties and
thereby helps the organisation move towards a learning culture.”
An excellent investment
Because a process consultant transfers his or her competences to the involved parties and thereby helps the organisation move towards a learning culture, I believe training process consultants is an excellent investment. It’s the good old “helping you help yourself” approach, to put it simply.
At the same time, it is important to understand that process consulting is not a quick fix. A learning process can be a source of disruption in an organisation because it leads to more questions and an increased curiosity about doing things in new ways. Naturally, an organisation must be prepared for that.
Are you interested in becoming a process consultant?
At the individual level, process consulting competences help create meaning and substance in a person’s job because you get involved in a number of educational and positive processes. A project manager, for instance, can learn to motivate stakeholders in an effective way that creates meaning, thereby ensuring that the project is successful.
My three tips to anyone with a dream of creating better processes as a process consultant are the following:
- Get your toolbox in order.
- Become aware of your own “presence” in a room. After all, as a process consultant you must be a neutral figure. This means you have to view the world from other people’s perspectives; not your own.
- Start small and get some experience. Process consulting is first and foremost about practice. That’s where you create value.