As process consultants working in organization development, we sometimes find ourselves in a bit of a conundrum when an implementation falters. There is no enduring benefit to retaining us without implementation, yet the action to get things going is often outside our scope by the client’s choice.

To see what can be done about this, we can start by using a process rule: when there is trouble at a particular process step, the root cause will often be found in a prior step. So…

1.    We start an engagement with a client via a process consultation wherein we explore

A.   The problem statement,

B.   A scope of work and how it will address the problem,

C.   The structure and configuration of a proposed engagement, i.e. how much of the scope will be assigned to us,

D.   How we will interact with the client’s people, and

E.   Any other collateral issues that may impact the engagement.

This consultation generally takes place through one or more conversations with the owner of the problem and may include his or her lead delegate(s), including the process owner, i.e. the person who is accountable for ensuring that the process giving rise to the problem actually is working correctly.

2.    Once agreement is reached, we begin work. Our deliverables generally include…

A.   An issue analysis aimed at reducing the situation surrounding the problem to a manageable level followed by a problem analysis leading to a focussed solution, both arrived at by working with the client’s key people in one or more facilitated groups;

B.   Further work with the client`s key people to flesh out the selected path forward to the necessary level of detail;

C.   A new or revised process, documented to the point of implementation;

D.   Training of those people who will be involved with the new process.

E.   Implementation of the solution by the organization’s people.

There may also be what we call Process Pathologies that cause a problem to emerge. Let’s look at each and add a brief discussion of what might have been done to avoid the trouble.