Consulting in Uncertainty
The Power of Inquiry
Routledge – 2014 – 184 pages
The traditional model of consulting places an emphasis on diagnosing a problem and finding a cure. But in today’s business world of globalized organizations, rapid knowledge proliferation, and the intertwining of economies, that approach is becoming less and less viable; problems are quickly redefined, new knowledge (and ownership of that knowledge) is constantly surfacing and being challenged, and no solution is a permanent solution. Consulting in Uncertainty articulates a model of consulting that addresses the uncertainty and interconnectedness of the world in a post-industrial, knowledge era.
Emphasizing outcomes and inquiry over ‘diagnosis’, Brooks and Edwards outline this new consulting model, as well as the skills consultants must bring to the table in any uncertain and dynamic environment. Integrating practical knowledge with scholarship, this book covers skills such as:
Consultants and students of consulting, as well as managers, teachers, counselors, and even parents, will find this book enlightening and useful in navigating today’s uncertain world.
"I don’t believe I’ve read a more intelligent, worthwhile, provocative, and insightful treatment of consulting than offered here. This book portrays a view of consulting that is both impelling and constructive. Every continuing and prospective consultant must have a copy." - R. Wayne Pace, Professor Emeritus of Organizational Leadership at the Marriott School of Management, Brigham Young University, USA.
"Consulting in Uncertainty is a highly readable, entertaining world of practical advice aimed at anyone genuinely interested in enabling ethical partnerships and mutual knowledge-sharing with those they serve. The collaborative inquiry approach here, time-honored in progressive adult education circles, is not for the faint-hearted. But for those who take consulting seriously, it’s about time that we had a no-nonsense book that eschews simplistic solutions and tackles the uncertainty facing today’s organisations." - Tara Fenwick, Professor of Professional Education at University of Stirling, UK.
"This is a very important book to bring the field of consulting into the real world of complexity, uncertainty, and multi-culturalism by emphasizing inquiry and problem solving with clients rather than for them." - Edgar H. Schein, Society of Sloan Fellows Professor of Management Emeritus at the MIT Sloan School of Management, USA.
"Consulting in Uncertainty is a must-read for consultants who’ve had client projects result in anything but complete success. This contemporary perspective of consulting provides evidence that traditional consulting often lacks the human and emotional inquiry necessary to deal with our clients. Brooks and Edwards concede that we must rethink our consulting approach if we are to get to the root of the client/consultant issue. I’ll re-read this book again and again – it makes transparent the invisible but important human element of emotions and inquiry." - Therese Yaeger, Professor, College of Business, Benedictine University, USA.
@Contents:PART I. Rethinking Consulting as Inquiry 1. The Changing Consulting Story 2. Shifting to an Inquiry Model 3. The Consultant’s Stance PART II. Inquiry into Relationship 4. Emotional Inquiry 5. Relationship 6. Consulting in a Transcultural and Transnational World PART III. Skills of Inquiry 7. Facilitating Inquiry 8. Learning the Organization 9. Methods of Inquiry
Ann Brooks is currently Professor of Adult Education at Texas State University, USA.
Kathy Edwards is a faculty member in the Management Department of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, USA.