BUS 370 Organizational Development
Both internal and external organizational development consultants guide leadership groups to understand the complexity of organizations and the need for system and process development that supports the company’s values, goals, mission and vision . OD consultants fulfil a very specific role with varying styles. We will look and the similarities and differences between Block’s consultant roles, Lippitt and Lippitt’s continuum of consulting roles and Blake and Mouton’s intervention styles.
Block’s Consultant Roles
According to Block, the roles played by consultants are expert, pair-of-hands, and collaborator. These roles apply whether the consultant is internal or external.
This is a role a consultant takes when the client lacks the ability, time or interest to solve a problem that has surfaced within an organization. The consultant’s goal is to solve the problem, they have full control. They plan, implement, and control information and intervention. There is little communication and no collaboration with the client, because the client plays an inactive role .
In this role, the consultant assumes a passive role. The client has typically already identified a need and wants the consultant to take care of the work. Like the expert role, there is no collaboration and little communication. The client maintains full control, specifies change procedures and decides the steps to proceed. The consultant follows the client’s direction and works to make the system more effective by utilizing the client’s requests and direction .
The collaborator role is preferred and by far the most effective. Unlike the other two roles, the client and consultant share responsibility and are mutually engaged in the effort to make the changes necessary. Communication, collaboration and negotiation is used for making decisions and implementing new processes. The goal is to ensure the problem stays solved .
Lippitt and Lippitt’s Continuum of Consulting Roles
Lippitt and Lippitt’s continuum of consulting roles suggests that consulting behaviors can be characterized along a continuum of nondirective to directive. There are eight roles identified by Lippitt and Lippitt, they are objective observer, process counselor, fact finder, alternative identifier, joint problem solver, trainer or educator, information specialist, and advocate. Each role has its place on the continuum, ranging from a more passive or non-directive role all the way to a more active, directive role .
Block’s Consultant Roles and Lippitt and Lippitt’s Continuum of Consulting Roles are both very similar. They are both based on the amount of control the consultant has versus the client. The differences really lie in the amount of detail there is between the two ideologies. Block’s is very simplified, it is either, passive, directive or collaborative. Lippitt and Lippitt have managed to identify five additional roles that a consultant may have, but still along the same thought process of passive, directive or collaborative, the process just includes some in-betweens.
Blake and Mouton’s Intervention Styles
In addition to the role’s consultants play, they also have intervention styles. Most consultants develop specific styles based on comfort, skills and interests. Blake and Mouton identified four roles, they are acceptant, catalytic, confrontational and prescriptive styles .
The acceptant style is a neutral, non-judgmental approach that helps clients, relax defenses, identify and confront emotional response, so they can solve their problems independently .
The catalytic style is for those skilled in gathering data, this is utilized to gain information about problems, analyze it, and decide how important or relevant the problem is. An informed decision can then be made on how to rectify the problem .
The confrontational style is when the consultant calls attention to discrepancies within a client’s stated values and their actions. The consultant points out observed contradictions so clients can see the discrepancies and decide if they want to change .
This style utilizes listening skills and the consultants own experience. The consultant collects data, listens to issues, and then based on experience determines a solution and presents it to the client .
These four styles all differ through the path of getting to the solution. Whether it is a neutral or a more passive approach, data driven, an aggressive calling out or a suggestion-based style, they are all done through active listening. Each style requires the consultant to listen and help guide the client to solutions.
Organization development consulting plays a very specific but unique role when it comes to driving successful organizational changes. They must utilize theoretical models, technical expertise and they must have the ability to implement processes to find solutions .
As described, OD consultants may hold differing roles based on the needs of their client and most have their own unique styles. Now we should have a clearer understanding of the similarities and differences between Block’s consultant roles, Lippitt and Lippitt’s continuum of consulting roles and Blake and Mouton’s intervention styles.