Flawless Consulting: A journey worth embarking on

Since about November 2014, I’ve been part of Partners for Possibility (PfPSA). This programme is dedicated to improving public school education in South Africa by empowering school principals to look at the challenges they face in their institutions and tackle these head on.

I’ve been partnered with Wilhelmina Matsebatlela, the vibrant and enthusiastic principal at Cosmo City Secondary. She joined the school in around 2008 and since then she has taken the school from strength to strength.

As part of PfPSA, Wilhelmina and I are required to go on a number of courses, with Flawless Consulting – developed by Peter Block – being one of them. We attended this two-day course yesterday and the day before, and the learnings we came out were more than we could’ve ever imagined. We went in looking at the world with blinkers on. When we came out, the blinkers were removed and we had achieved such a richer appreciation of the world around us.

What did we learn?

To be able to hold fruitful, meaningful interactions with an individual or a group of people (in other words, to contract well with them), you’ve got to go through a number of phases. These are:

  • Contracting,
  • Diagnosis,
  • Feedback and decision-making,
  • Implementation, and
  • Evaluation.

For your contracting process to be successful, you can’t skimp on the introductory phases, i.e. contracting, diagnosis, feedback and decision-making. Think of it in terms of building a house. Contracting, diagnosis, feedback and decision-making are like building the foundations: if you skimp on any aspect of building this layer of the house, eventually your house will collapse. This means that you will need to spend as much time as is necessary on these three initial phases – be it three minutes or three months – so that your contracting process is a success.

I think for me the most powerful part of the two days was when we brought all of the principles together and role played situations in which we needed to contract with a person in our lives with who we were experiencing a difficult situation.

We were divided into groups and had to have a difficult conversation – which we would have had with this difficult person – with another member of our group who took the role of the listener. We were recorded during the conversation.

Throughout this process, I felt such powerful emotions that I actually felt I was talking to the difficult person – and not my listener. I sensed that an emotional burden had been lifted off my shoulders that I had made peace with this person – even though I had not breathed a word to them.

Thank you Louise van Rhyn, Symphonia and PfPSA for giving us this opportunity to be part of such an amazing experience. I know that we will use this amazing experience going forward.