Peter Block on what’s new in management consulting

Interview with Peter Block: Author and Management Guru

Peter Block wrote “Flawless Consulting” the definitive guide for consultants (both internal and external), HR professionals and people who want to get their expertise used. He has also written “The Answer to How is Yes” and “Stewardship“. For several decades now, Peter has been providing clear thinking, guidance, roadmaps and helpful frameworks for professionals to be more effective and to make a meaningful impact on community.

Here is an interview with Peter:

Q: Flawless Consulting has been the essential classic for internal consultants for decades. What changes have you made, if any to the model over the years?

Peter Block: The early language of the phase of developing a clear picture of the client world was about diagnosis, deficiency, and needs analysis. Now it is the language of discovery, gifts, capacity and asset analysis. This means we become partners by focusing on what is working and helping others live out their intentions, not come in with a stance on what we think would be good for them.

Q: How do you see the landscape of HR consulting today. What impacts do you see from the technology and social media changes?

Peter Block: The technology and social media are promoted as tools for connection, 24/7 convenience, the freedom to work at home, and a way of cutting the cost of being in the room together. HR is a relationship business, relationship with clients and creating culture of commitment and accountability. The technology mostly cuts costs and provides convenience. It often creates more disconnection and distance, the opposite of what it promises. It also reduces learning to a mostly cognitive process. The training in many cases becomes a sophisticated textbook.

In the face of this, it is fun, entertaining, mesmerizing, compelling, and a great shopping tool. And all this constantly available in your pocket to ward off boredom.

Q: What are the most important trends affecting HR and talent landscape?

Peter Block: The attention remains on leadership, leadership, leadership. Coaching continues as a growth industry. The care for teams, the importance of high engagement cultures, the willingness to invest in employee involvement at lower levels has diminished.

Some of the best companies are increasingly unable to keep their best people. Good compensation, advancement, and being highly valued by your boss have lost their glow.

Q: What recent work has given you great satisfaction recently?

Peter Block: I recently spent a couple of days with Mars Inc. They continue to value a culture of mutuality, humility, freedom and engagement. It was a treat.

Also the work in building community in the civic and neighborhood world is very rewarding. Difficult and complicated, but worth the effort.

Q: How do you view the topics of positive psychology and intrinsic motivation?

Peter Block: They are a clear step forward from the psychology of disorders and outside-in motivation. Good stuff. My concern is that they consider the individual the unit of transformation. Can be individualistic and not really address the power of culture and interdependence.

Q: What has worked for you in the area of personal development and growth?

Peter Block: Always needed a teacher who becomes a friend. There have been about six in my career. Also need colleagues who shift my thinking and are true partners.

Q: Any message for the followers of your work? What’s new and exciting to look forward to?

Peter Block: The big organizational question is to really ask “For what purpose do companies exist.” The usual ones shareholder value, employee happiness and customer satisfaction are too small a set of answers. Along with that is to re-imagine an alternative economics. Especially on a local, neighborhood level. There some exciting ideas around about that.

iSharad - Leadership and Career Success

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Sharad Verma is currently HR Head (CHRO) for Sears Holdings India.

Sharad’s blog on leadership, talent and innovation is available at Sharad has been named one of the Top 20 Social Media HR Influencers by SHRM, featured as one of the Best HR Heads in India and his column featured in the top 5 most read career advice on Star career website.

A graduate of the prestigious XLRI, Sharad has more than two decades of HR experience. He has previously been Global Head – Human Resources for Polaris Consulting & Services Ltd, Director, Human Resources for SunGard Global Technology, Head of Human Resources for Berkadia (subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway),, and The Bank of New York Mellon India.

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