The Consultants Guide To by theelixer


									         The Consultants Guide To…

How to Win Support for Your Ideas without
 Hard Sell, Manipulation or Power Plays

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                             Guide to
                  Why Don’t You Want What I Want?
                         For Consultants
Purpose of this Guide
I wrote this short guidebook for fellow consultants. I hope it will help you increase your client’s
ability to get things accomplished – and I hope that it helps increase your own effectiveness with
clients and colleagues.

This guide in not a replacement for my book. (It is not a Cliff Notes version of the book.) In fact,
I assume you’ve got a copy of Why Don’t You Want What I Want? handy. Without it, this guide
won’t make much sense. I will refer to page numbers in the book to guide you to full explanations
of concepts and descriptions of activities.

This guide includes:

 • What Goes Wrong on Consulting Assignments

 • Getting Started on the Right Foot (and Avoiding the Pitfalls)

 • Principles of Engagement Assessment

 • An Easy Way to Determine Support and Resistance

 • Planning Meetings That Build Buy-in

 • Coaching Clients

 • Other Tips for Consultants

 • What Goes Wrong on Consulting Assignments

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Influence Is All We’ve Got
We’re consultants, we can’t make our clients do anything. Our ability to influence is all we’ve got.
In my experience, too many consultants think that providing good data in an appealing manner is
what it takes to influence clients. While this is sometimes true, we often miss opportunities when
the client really needs something more than our PowerPoint presentations can offer.

The Pitfalls Consultants Face
Consider a client engagement where your portion of the work failed. How many of the following
pitfalls were present?

   •    Assuming I knew more about the client’s problems than they did. It may be true that
        we do know more about an industry or a type of software problem, but we can never
        know as much about what it’s like to face their problems day after day as they do. When
        we succumb to this pitfall, we risk creating an I/It relationship. (See Chapter 4) I/It rela-
        tionships create barriers and greatly reduce our ability to influence. And assuming we
        know more than they do, leads to the next pitfall . . .
   •    I got out ahead of the client. This is a major pitfall covered in Chapter 1 (see page 21).
        When we are moving faster (or in a different direction) than our client, we are saying in
        effect, “Trust me. I’ve got it all figured out. Just go along with my brilliant thinking and
        everything will be OK.”

   •    I ignored their reactions. We are so taken with our own presentation that we miss their
        reactions (see Chapter 7, Pay Attention). We have no way of knowing if they are excited,
        fearful, or indifferent to our proposal. Without this critical information, we make deci-
        sions and take actions based on incomplete data.

   •    I ignored the context. We fail to recognize their history working with consultants. Even
        though your firm (just like mine) is different from all the rest, it may take our clients a
        little time to see true integrity and perfection personified. So for the time being, they
        make assumptions about us based on their experience. If they believe consultants were
        responsible for the bloodbath that was downsizing – even if the consultants were from
        another firm – they will be hesitant to trust us. Often this history creates strong Level 3
        animosity (see Chapter 2). And when this deeply embedded resistance is present, our
        ability to influence is low.

        Another important part of context is their history with similar changes. Was their experi-
        ence good or bad? The answer to that question makes a difference, and if we don’t pay
        attention to this information, we may do things that create opposition instead of support.
        (See Chapter 4, Consider the Context).

   •    I assumed that all opposition could be handled by giving people more information.
        As you saw when you read Why?, lack of information is only one small reason why peo-
        ple support or oppose our ideas. The trap of steel-trap logic may cause us to miss a dif-

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       ferent type of data: emotions. Our information may be good, but it speaks a different lan-
       guage than the language of emotions.

When the Pitfalls Can Occur
Chapter 2 identifies three levels of potential resistance.

   Level 1 is resistance based on information. I don’t get it.

   Level 2 is an emotional reaction to our idea. I don’t like it.

   Level 3 is a reaction against us. I don’t trust you.

These pitfalls can occur anytime during the engagement: from selling to contracting to day-to-day
work on the engagement. Not only can all three levels of resistance occur anytime – they can
occur simultaneously. In other words, our client may be confused (Level 1), afraid this project will
cost him his job (Level 2), and believe that you are the wrong person to be leading this part of the
process (Level 3). It’s a threefer!

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                        Getting Started on the Right Foot
                              (How to Avoid Pitfalls)
Major problems often occur when Level 2 or Level 3 issues are present. This resistance can
severely hinder the commitment you need to get the new systems up and running.

Here are some things to consider.

   1. Anticipate. You have one tremendous advantage going in to a client engagement:
      you’ve got experience. You (or people in your firm) have experience working on similar
      projects. You (or your firm) probably have a lot of experience working in the client’s
      industry. In other words, you should be able to anticipate the level of support or opposi-
      tion you are likely to face. (See page 12 in this guide for one tool to get at this data.)

   2. Verify and differentiate. Once you make assumptions about reluctance or enthusiasm on the
      part of people in the client organization, check it out. Find out how this organization is similar
      or different from others (see Chapter 4, Consider the Context). Pay attention to where you are
      likely to receive support and where you are likely to face opposition. Find out why people are
      excited and be equally interested in finding out why people would rather you just went away.

   3. Use this information about potential support or resistance to guide your planning.
      Begin with the 5-5 Stakeholder Analysis (Page 30 in Why? ) This simple tool will help
      you determine the level of support you need from individuals and various parts of the
      organization. For example, you may need the CEO, COO, and CFO to be active champi-
      ons for the changes this will bring about, or you may need the SVPs of marketing,
      accounting, and IT to support the effort. It may be fine if HR and other departments sim-
      ply go along. Once you match the level of support you need with the level you are likely
      to get, you can begin to create strategies. (The 5-5 tool will show you how to do this.)

       It is sometimes dangerous to assume that resistance is coming from one person who acts
       independent of his or her environment. That would be wrong. Chapter 4, Consider the
       Context, explores the environmental conditions that lead to support and resistance with
       regard to this engagement. Page 89 gives you a quick way to assess why people might
       respond in the way they do.

   4. Include 5-5 issues in your planning. Often consultants limit their planning to technical
      and financial considerations. Concern for human issues like excitement and resistance
      gets relegated to some weak change management sideshow attraction. Finding ways to
      address Level 2 and Level 3 emotional issues must be part of your planning.

       You’ve probably seen the research on failed change in organizations. But, if you haven’t,
       be prepared to get depressed. (These numbers are from the 1990s, but the underlying
       conditions that led to these results have not changed significantly.)

           •    Most mergers fail. Not only do they fail, but also a high percentage actually
                decrease shareholder value. (Peat Marwick. 1999)

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       •    Major IT projects have a 9 percent success rate in large organizations. (Standish
            Group. 1995)

       •    Reengineering is successful about one-third of the time according to Hammer
            and Champy, 1995. I realize that reengineering has fallen out of favor in many
            places, but just because the name has changed doesn’t mean that we are handling
            similar major overhauls with any more finesse.

5. Play both ends of the paradox (see Chapter 9, Find Ways to Connect). This approach
   allows you to join clients in conversations that embrace both the strong push for the
   change along with the strong resistance. The beauty of working with the paradox is that
   it gets people interested in exploring with you. So instead of creating meetings that look
   more like win-lose confrontation, the paradoxical statement looks for a way to get at
   mutual wins.

   This is not an argument in favor of watered down compromise. When you create a
   strong paradoxical question, you invite yourself and others to play with strong “what if”

   A paradoxical statement takes the goal of the project, such as creating an ERP (enterprise
   resource planning) that coordinates work across the enterprise, and matches it with the
   strongest resistance to it. The process shows you how to turn this resistance into a posi-
   tive. Let’s say that the strongest opposition was the fear that this would result in loss of
   jobs. By looking at the mirror image of the resistance, you could create a question that
   reads: How can we gain the full benefits of ERP in a way that strengthens employment
   throughout our organization?

   You need not have the answer to that question; you merely need to engage your col-
   leagues and clients in conversations to explore if this goal might be attainable.

6. Use the three levels – information, emotional reactions, and trust – as lenses
   throughout the process. (Chapters 2, Why Don’t They Want What I Want?) Continually
   monitor to make sure that all three are favorable: people understand what you are trying
   to say and do, they are reacting favorably, and they believe you are the one to do the
   work. When you get indications that any are moving to the negative side, slow down.

   But be careful. We consultants tend to over-communicate. We can rely too much on
   presentation. So if we see that Level 2 emotional reactions are leaning toward the nega-
   tive, we should not respond with a Level 1 PowerPoint presentation. When you are in
   France, you don’t speak German, even though you may know that language better.
   Speak the language that’s needed.

   The guidelines on page 119 of Why? may help you pay attention to more than just the
   Level 1 issues.

   When you begin to believe that one of the levels is moving against you, work to get that
   resistance out in the open. There is no way you can deal with it effectively if you don’t

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   know what it is. Chapter 8, Explore Deeply, explains how to get people to identify their
   own opposition or resistance.

   (See the chart on page 45 of Why? that provides a summary of support and resistance at
   all three levels. Consider marking this page for easy reference.)

7. Use the models in Why? in meetings with colleagues and clients to discuss ways to build
   support for ideas. For example, you might use the following format:

       •    Explain the three levels.

                i. Post the icon that represents the three levels. Explain that this represents
                   the interplay of three important elements of support: information, emo-
                   tional reaction, and trust.

                ii. These three things are always alive. For example, you can’t deal with
                    trust and then assume it is over forever and always. These factors can
                    work for you or they can work against you.

                iii. Explain the consequences of Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 resistance
                     (Chapter 2).

       •    Facilitate a conversation that gets at: are people clear about the idea?, do they
            like it?, and do they trust you to lead this process? Be mindful of assumptions
            people might make without data. If a client says, We’re doing great on all three
            levels.” Explore. Find out what leads them to think that? Is it wishful thinking or
            is it based on something more tangible?

       •    Explore ways to bolster support in areas where you anticipate problems.

8. Use the principles of engagement to guide your own work. (Overview in Chapter 3, then
   each gets its own chapter in the middle section of the book). (See “Principles of
   Engagement Assessment” on the next page in this guide.)

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                       Principles of Engagement Assessment
Chapters 3 through 9 of Why Don’t You Want What I Want? cover the principles of engagement.
Applying the six principles increases the likelihood that people will understand your idea, react
favorably to it, and that you will be able to build their trust and confidence in you. Think of a typ-
ical situation in which you attempt to build support for your ideas and score each item on the scale
of 1 to 7.

                                              Know Your Intention

   1                   2                  3              4                 5                 6                  7

Often my intention                                                            My intention when trying to influence
is to get my idea                                                           a client (or colleagues) usually includes
implemented without                                                            the other person’s interests as well as
regard to what others want                                                                           my own (I/You)

                                              Consider the Context

   1                   2                  3              4                 5                 6                  7

Often I assume that a good idea                                                            I consider a wide range of
will succeed in spite of cues                                                        contextual cues in my planning
that suggest otherwise.                                                     & implementation. I want to know what
(I may ignore these cues)                                                       the Level 2 & Level 3 conditions are
                                                                           that could have an impact on this process

                                      Avoid Knee Jerk Reactions

   1                   2                  3              4                 5                 6                  7

I often react                                                                    I know what triggers me and have
emotionally and                                                                 developed an array of ways to keep
defensively when                                                                     from reacting without thinking
others disagree strongly with my ideas.                                                  through the consequences.
                                                 Pay Attention

   1                   2                  3              4                 5                 6                  7

When I present                                                                        While attending to the quality
an idea, I focus                                                                               of my presentation, I
entirely on making                                                                         use subtle cues from the
sure my presentation                                                                           audience in real time
is delivered well.                                                                           to let me know if I am
                                                                                                     on or off track.

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                                              Explore Deeply

   1                 2                 3                 4                 5                 6                  7

I hate negative                                                            I believe that strong emotional reactions
emotions and                                                             toward my idea hold valuable information.
avoid them.                                                                     I have learned a number of ways to
                                                                           find out what’s behind the anger or fear.

                                           Find Ways To Connect

   1                 2                 3                 4                 5                 6                  7

People need to grow up.                                                     I believe that I can create the strongest
If their boss says to do                                                  commitment if I can tap into what’s most
something they should do it.                                         important to those who need to go along. I am
                                                                 quite capable of engaging people in conversations
                                                                                          that look for mutual wins.
6 –7 on all items: Assuming you’re not delusional; you are probably quite effective in getting oth-
ers interested and committed to your ideas. You should consider writing a book.

3-5 on all items: You may find that you ask yourself the question, why don’t they want what I want?
quite often. Your success may be highly situational: there are places where you are very influen-
tial and others where you consistently fall short. Begin by using the three levels and the principles
to begin noticing how colleagues work with others. Use the lenses those levels provide to dissect
what they do. See what works and what doesn’t. Then consider picking one or two of the princi-
ples that seem to hold the most interest for you, and begin to try experiments in the more chal-
lenging arenas to see if you can begin to create shifts in how you approach and respond to others.

1-2 on all items: Give yourself a lot of credit for taking such a close look at your actions. See the
comments written above to begin by noticing other people. And then consider looking over the
principles, and pick one to work on. Find low risk situations to begin to experiment with new ways
of approaching and responding to people.

Mixed scores (some high, some low): Take a look at the low scores, these arenas may be the
main things that lower your effectiveness on consulting engagements. Begin by noticing how
people who seem to be effective getting their ideas across handle those areas where you scored
low. Note what they are doing. Then build on your strengths and begin to incorporate one or
two new actions into what you are already doing well.

You’ll note that I suggest starting slowly. Changing how we view situations and other people
and then changing our behavior doesn’t come easily. Starting small can allow the snowball to
get larger as you begin rolling. Starting too big often just leads to frustration.

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        An Easy Way to Determine Support and Resistance
A few years ago I was invited in to work with the consultants and clients who were working on a
major reengineering project in a telecom. They thought that they might face resistance when they
announced the initial plans at an upcoming planning meeting, but they weren’t sure what it was
going to look like. I invited them to take part in the following experiment to get at resistance and
support. Since then I have used this technique frequently.

   1. Invite the people in the room to imagine they were the people coming to the meeting.
      (Or imagine they were the people in a particular department, regional office, supplier,
      customer, etc.)

   2. Ask: Imaging that you are a person from that group, what are your reactions to this pro-
      posed change or new idea?

   3. Copy all the responses on a flip chart.

   4. Using green markers underline all the responses that indicate a Level 1 informational
      issue. Using a blue marker indicates all the Level 2 emotional reactions, and a red mark-
      er to indicate all the Level 3 trust issues. Remember, any one item could represent two
      or three levels.

   5. Look at the results. Often I find that most of the issues are Level 2 or 3 and yet the client
      and consultant strategies for gaining support are all focused on providing sound Level 1

   6. Develop strategies for working with the major issues on the list. For example, if the
      responses indicate a lot of fear about the idea, develop strategies that get at alleviating
      that fear. Chapter 9, Find Ways to Connect, may help in that regard. If lack of trust is
      an issue, then begin to do whatever it takes to rebuild bridges. In spite of the chapter
      title, Chapter 11, Ways to Avoid Resistance Before It Occurs, may give you some
      ideas on ways to begin to rebuild trust.

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                       Planning Meetings that Build Buy-in
The following checklist can support you using the six principles of engagement (Chapters 3
through 9).

   •    Many of the tools for getting people involved have a few elements in common. Here is a
        tip sheet of things to consider when you plan a meeting that focuses on change. (These
        are pretty good ideas to use in other meetings as well.)

   •    Invite representatives from all groups that have a stake in the outcome of this change. When pos-
        sible, invite everyone. If that’s not possible, make sure all groups and interests are represented.

   •    Consider using a planning group made up of many diverse interests to help you plan the meeting.

   •    Pre-assign seats so that each table of eight to ten people is a maximum mixture of the
        whole. Every table should be a microcosm of the entire organization. Each table should
        include various departments, interests, and levels of the organization.

   •    Allow time for conversation. Don’t try to speed things up.

   •    Emphasize conversation, not presentation. Except for an introductory presentation that
        sets the stage (and even that might not be necessary), don’t make speeches.

   •    Before getting reactions to a presentation, make sure people are clear about what has just
        been presented. Ask for questions of clarification before you get people’s reactions. If
        you miss this step, people will be responding from their assumption about what they
        think they heard, rather than responding to the actual idea.

   •    Invite resistance. Here is a simple technique taken from Kathie Dannemiller and Robert
        Jacobs’s work on change. After a proposal is made, each table is asked to respond to
        three questions: What makes you glad (about this proposal)? What makes you mad?
        What would you add (or change)?

   •    Tell people how you will use this information. And then keep your promises. If you say
        you’ll get back to them within three days, don’t miss that deadline.

   •    Stay awake. Meeting agendas are merely roadmaps. Actual driving conditions will vary. If it
        seems clear that people are resistant to something, take time to explore what’s in their hearts
        and on their minds. I have seen good meetings disintegrate simply because the leaders felt
        compelled to get through the agenda in spite of what was occurring in front of them.

   •    Be honest. If some items are not negotiable, tell people, and tell them why. Don’t pre-
        tend that everything is open for discussion if that’s not the case. You may take some heat
        for this, but it will be far better than implicitly lying to folks.

This tool is taken from Building Capacity for Change Sourcebook, Maurer & Associates,
Arlington, VA 2000.

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                                        Coaching Clients
You may find the Principles helpful in coaching clients who have difficulty getting their ideas
across. Here’s a process.

Begin by focusing on a critical incident that both you and your client observed. Ask him or her to
take the Principles of Engagemnt Assessment in this guide. As he or she fills it out, you can make
your observations. If you believe your client is scoring too high or too low on a particular item,
discuss these differences.

Start small. Pick one area to work on. I find that the principles Know Your Intention and Avoid
Knee-Jerk Reactions are two of the more difficult ones, and provide the biggest benefit when peo-
ple get more skilled at using them. Chapters 4 through 9 give a lot of practical ideas for using each
of the principles.

Since you will probably be in meetings with your client, offer to co-lead, or coach him or her dur-
ing breaks.

Working with the principles is not a one-shot thing. Encourage your client to make these coach-
ing session an on-going part of your work together.

                               Other Tips for Consultants
Building support for ourselves and our ideas before opposition has a chance to rise makes sense.
It saves time, money, and migranes. Chapter 11, Ways to Avoid Resistance in the First Place, could
help you build a foundation for your ideas within your firm and with clients.

Sometimes we need to cut the cord. This is never easy, but the consequences of continuing with a
client where we constantly deliver less than the best, can have a negative impact on our reputa-
tions. Chapter 12, Know When to Walk Away may help you decide when to stay and when to go.

Due to the expense and the significant exposure within their own organization, saying yes to a
consulting contract is risky for clients. Traditional advice on selling doesn’t help us win major
contracts. The interview with Neil Rackham that begins on page 147 may introduce you to some-
one who has done significant research on why some salespeople are successful and others are not.

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Rick Maurer is an advisor to individuals and organizations on ways to build support for change.
After publication of Beyond the Wall of Resistance in 1996, he worked closely with Deloitte
Consulting as they used his ideas in the change leadership portion of their practice. His own clients
range from high tech to healthcare to financial services to telcommunications. His opinion has been
sought by The Economist, NBC Nightly News, CNBC, Fortune, and The Wall Street Journal.

Visit his website: for more resources related to Why Don’t You Want
What I Want? as well as tools related to change management. You can reach him personally at:

A Note to Consultants: If you are interested in using Why Don’t You Want What I Want? with your
clients, please contact Sandy Honour to purchase multiple copies. (We can provide a very good
discount for bulk purchases.) E-mail or call her at 703 273-6906.

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