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Humble Consulting

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Humble Consulting

How to Provide Real Help Faster


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Humble consultants understand complex issues and help clients institute small, productive fixes.

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Applicable
  • Well Structured


Consultants can no longer operate as they once did: Assume the role of corporate doctor, diagnose organizational challenges and provide detailed prescriptions. Traditional consultancy is inadequate for today’s daunting business environment, says Edgar H. Schein. He believes a fresh consultancy model is in order, and so he delivers it. The “father of process consultation,” he spent 50 years teaching and researching organizational culture. His “humble consulting” model helps consultants parse complex issues and help their clients institute small, productive fixes. Schein believes the client and consultant, without being too chummy, must develop “an open, trusting relationship” to be effective working partners. getAbstract recommends his insightful, instructive manual to consultants, counselors, coaches and even parents.


Organizational Problems

The problems that confront organizations today are complex, ambiguous and confusing. They don’t yield easily to technical solutions and they often involve different cultural tropes, constituent groups, assumptions, unaligned goals and disconnected silos. These problems are generally unstable and in constant flux. Companies often try to gather the right people to coordinate their thoughts and actions to fix things quickly. Even getting these people into the same room can be difficult, if not impossible. Many times, they can’t communicate. Almost always, they won’t agree.

Complex problems don’t yield to standard consultative diagnosis and intervention. This time-wasting strategy often targets the wrong issues. Most organizational problems require a fresh approach to consulting, coaching and thinking. The approach is “Humble consulting” (HC). It’s called “humble” because it acknowledges the complexity of the problems clients face, as well as the difficulty of moving ahead productively. The goal of HC is to have the consultant – or “helper” – assist the client in achieving something the client can’t accomplish alone. It’s up to...

About the Author

Social psychologist Edgar Henry Schein, PhD, is an organizational development expert. He formerly taught at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He also wrote Humble Inquiry.

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