Wisdom from Flawless Consulting

by Peter Block

This list of quotations captures about the spirit behind consulting skills and is a basis for our consulting skills training workshop. They are gleamed from Peter Block’s “Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used”. Whether you are doing HR, IT, quality, project management, business or management consulting, they are useful food for thought.

  • An authentic consultant is not an oxymoron, but a compelling competitive advantage, if unfortunately a rare one.
  • Authenticity is a high-risk strategy, it swims upstream against the culture of control, it also demands some faith in ourselves.
  • Valuing the relationship between consultant and client and defining how to manage that relationship is where this book has found its niche.
  • The task of the consultant is increasingly to build the capacity of clients to make their own assessments and answer their own questions.
  • A crucial part of implementation is the art of engagement.
  • To be a consultant is to try to influence people over whom you have no direct control.
  • If you do have direct control, you’re acting as a surrogate manager, not a consultant.
  • What is difficult about managing relationships is that it demands the need to know ourselves and be authentic.
  • Authenticity is simply being honest with ourselves and being direct and honest with other.
  • Every issue dealt with in contracting means fewer problems later on – this is your highest leverage time.
  • Hurried contracting, shotgun diagnosis and impersonal feedback are the breeding ground for problems in implementation.
  • Determine who is your real client.
  • Personal, confronting statements delivered with compassion are the core of giving feedback.
  • As soon as you bend over, people think you like to work in a bent-over position.
  • Consultant leverage and influence increase as a contact becomes mutual, balanced in consideration and clear.
  • You discover what is possible only by going too far.
  • Resistance is not to be overcome, but to be understood and expressed.
  • When clients seem resistant to your recommendations, to questions, to you personally – the real resistance is their own reluctance to confront some harsh realities in their own situation.
  • Resistance is a sign of change and learning – you can’t have learning without resistance.
  • Resistance is nature’s way of telling you something important is going on!
  • Consultants have resistance too.
  • Leverage in the meeting comes from knowing what you want.
  • Accept positive feedback: Take a deep breath and say thank you. Don’t explain it away.
  • The internal politics of an organization are obvious when you’re looking up – and invisible when you’re looking down.
  • The test of your work is whether anything happens when you’re not there.
  • Your unique value to the client is your ability to see clearly how the problem is being managed.
  • How you are being managed provides the first insight into how the client/company is managing the problem.
  • The client has always contributed to the problem in some way.
  • In giving difficult feedback, words confront and tone of voice supports.
  • The anxiety you feel about giving difficult feedback is your own, not the client’s – saying it is often much harder than listening to it.
  • To do good work, you need to state clearly what you want from the client.
  • Feelings are facts.
  • People choose to commit to a decision based on emotion, feelings, intuition, hope and trust.


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