My clients hired us for our advice, experience and diagnostic skills. Yet, when we present what we consider incontrovertible evidence of a pressing issue, we get all kinds of excuses about our work, or that it isn't something they want to deal with. How do we break through?
The resistance to come to terms with uncomfortable truths is an aspect of human nature we all deal with, but there is something as consultants we can do about it when it afflicts our clients. In fact, the thinking follows a well-prescribed path to coping:
- Stage One: "The data are wrong.” This is total denial, couched in the unwillingness to accept that data reflect reality.
- Stage Two: "The data are right, but it’s not a problem.” This accepts that data reflect reality but that the data are variants on the desired and predicted reality of consequence to us.
- Stage Three: "The data are right, it’s a problem, but it’s not my problem.” This is when the problem is neither your fault nor should you have any role in its resolution.
- Stage Four: "The data are right, it’s a problem, and it’s my problem.” This is acceptance of a role, even beyond the scope of your contribution to the problem, to take responsibility and come up with a solution.
This is about taking on the burden of creating something new that goes beyond just fixing a problem. This is the Japanese work "jiseki," meaning, I'll take care of this, I can and will fix this, I will make it all better.Tip:
As with Kubler-Ross's five stages of grief, understanding this progression from denial to acceptance can help you design a process to move your clients from one stage to another. And let's not forget, this applies to us
as well as our clients.© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA