The project that I selected for this class was neither a glass half full nor half empty. I saw the presenting problem as a glass as entirely full and one of great interest to me. As a college student, I worked as a Resident Advisor, a student worker in the Dean of Students Office as well as the Summer Conference Program. I thought that it was one with which I could be of assistance as well as of interest to me.
When meeting with the client early in the project, she indicated that her team had read Jon Gordon’s The Energy Bus. She expressed how the book enabled the negative energy that once permeated her department to dissipate. Gordon’s book, a Wall Street Journal Bestseller, illustrates how an encounter with a bus driver engages an individual with ways in which to fuel his work life with positive energy. Embedded within the story are rules for positive energy, an action plan as ways in which to love one’s passengers or members of a team. I chose to read this book in the hope that it would open the door to connect with the client and to engage her in conversation about her team. I have selected the model as one in which to share my reflection of the culmination of the consulting project and this course of study.
The consulting project suffered several significant problems early in the semester; the transition from a team of four to three when a team member became a client altered the dynamics of the group in September. The disassociation of one member of L Cubed consulting in October meant that cohesion for the team was challenging. When this member withdrew from the course, it posed a lesser difficulty, but one never the less. Our team became a partnership with relatively little if any time to consider what it meant to be so. The fundamental task presented by the client, was broad in scope, providing a challenge when creating goals for the client and consulting partnership to consider.
I soon began to find that I empathize with the character Jon Gordon
created. The glass that I saw as entirely full in September slowly began to drain of all possibility by mid-October. (okay, perhaps a little bit melodramatic on my part!) My energy and enthusiasm for the presenting problem began to dissipate. When searching for ideas to sustain my interest, my professional energy bus became The Flawless Consulting Fieldbook. I found expertise from several consultants, from the case stories and techniques selected by Block, necessary for the vitality I desired. Schein’s reminder that the most important relationship is the one that goes on inside my head is one that I needed to maintain with care (Schein, 1999).
Concepts and theories find a home, for me, in stories. Storytelling in the workplace engages me in ideas and scenarios that resonate with me as a reader and teacher. I selected several entries from the companion book around concepts that I felt would give me the energy necessary to complete the course with enthusiasm: partnership, courage, conversation and engagement, capacity building, advice giving along with learning and teaching.
Gordon suggests that managers invite team members to explore topics crucial for to navigate the bus in the right directions. These invitations, in the form of a bus ticket, can be mailed electronically.
The energy tickets I created for my brief presentation for the last class highlight ideas selected from essays in the field book.
Practice #1: Partnership
So, What’s Working Here? A conversation with Elizabeth McGrath
Energy Takeaway: Be clear about your wants and needs.
Be Understood & Understand Others
Practice #2: Courage
Talk is Walk Language and Courage in Action by Peter Koestenbaum
Energy Takeaway: Use the consultant voice that asks, “How about…”
Thought: How can I live a courageous life as a consultant and manage the anxieties that redoubtable surface in the helping profession?
Practice #3: Conversation & Engagement
The Power of conversations at Work by Joel Henning
Energy Takeaway: Engagement begins with discovery. Ask “What works here?”
Practice #4: Capability Building
Consulting as Capability Building by Lou Ann Daly
Energy Takeaway: Look for opportunities for growth. Build the client’s capacity to make a change sans consultant.
Practice #5: Advice
What should I do? by Peter Block
Energy Takeaway: Avoid Advice Giving-Recommendations typically sit on the shelf.
Practice #6: Learning and Teaching
Homeopathic Consulting Learning if Free Teaching is Not by Cliff Bolster
Energy Takeaway: Protect the learning space for the client. Learning events + small doses equilibrates the relationship.
It’s been a very busy and demanding semester. I am so glad that I chose to take this course right before the Capstone Class. I know that the ideas and energy takeaways will be more accessible because of the short time frame between courses. I look forward to the new challenge it will present AFTER a long and well deserved break!
Block, P., & Markowitz, A. (2000). The Flawless Consulting Fieldbook and Companion: A guide to understanding your expertise. John Wiley & Sons.
Gordon, J. (2010). The energy bus: 10 rules to fuel your life, work, and team with positive energy. John Wiley & Sons.