Home > Creativity, leadership, management > How important is contextual knowledge for process consultants in business settings?

How important is contextual knowledge for process consultants in business settings?


Margaret Mead ( December 16, 1901, Philadelphi...
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am interested in knowing in what two or three adjectives you would use to describe the essential nature of the environment that you operate in for your business.

What do you consider to be the most important environmental influences on the system that is your business? Is your environment something that your firm can directly affect or are you really at the mercy of where the environment and its regulations are going? To what degree do you have true freedom of action in your environment?

I ask this because it is customary to overlook the real differences in the nature of the environments that different businesses operate in. In an effort to oversimplify systems theory sometimes we overgeneralize and miss important distinctions.

It’s very dangerous to be an expert in systems theory and conclude that you as a consultant have special insight into a business where you’ve never worked before.

I can remember doing some work with a student of John Forrester, the founder of systems dynamics who was herself a recognized authority in modeling complex business systems. She told the story of how difficult it was for her to learn the lesson that being an expert in general systems theory can be an obstacle in helping an organization discover and map its own processes. She had to learn to set aside her preconceived notions and let the story unfold from the people who were directly involved.

This seems to be an important theme in every style of action research that I have seen so far as well.

how important is specialized knowledge for you in your business? How would you protect yourself from a naïve process consultant or expert consultant who might be in a hurry to offer a advice?

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