Self as Instrument: Dual Consulting Identities the Evaluator and the Designer

By Keister, Angie; Paranjpey, Neelima | Organization Development Journal, Summer 2012 | Go to article overview

Self as Instrument: Dual Consulting Identities the Evaluator and the Designer


Keister, Angie, Paranjpey, Neelima, Organization Development Journal


Abstract

The role of the Organization Development consultant is a supportive role, helping clients determine the source of their issue and to design solutions for change that offer sustainable results. OD consultants can use self as an instrument to achieve this. An effective use of self requires not only self awareness but also the ability to interpret clearly what is going on and take action appropriate to the situation. In this paper we propose that the two distinct ways to utilize self (identities of self) are: as an evaluator and a designer. This experience based paper aims to explore the role of self as an instrument in Organization Development consulting. The paper is divided in three parts. The first part of the paper addresses the evolution of self, answers the question "what is self?" through relevant literature. The second part of the paper will focus on understanding the dual identities from a philosophical and experiential standpoint. The experiential view of the identities is developed from interviews with tenured OD consultants and specifically who have used self as instrument in their consulting; David Jamieson and Edith Seashore. Finally, we offer a framework for OD consultants on how they can intentionally use self as an instrument via the designer and evaluator consultant identities to strengthen their practice.

Introduction

Cheung-Judge (2001) considers use of self as one of the core competencies required for OD practitioners as does the OD Network on their list of core competencies, last updated in 2001. One reason for this could be that the OD consultant is required to understand the client and the client's environment thoroughly and construct appropriate change interventions. To be skilled at understanding the environment, the OD consultant needs to be involved and observant of the client, their work and the environment. Additionally, there is a need to develop an objective lens and be aware of one's biases, strengths, feelings, and thoughts. The objectivity in these observations requires a skilled depth of self-awareness. An effective use of self requires not only self awareness but also the ability to interpret clearly what is going on and take action appropriate to the situation (Jamieson, Auron, & Shechtman, 2010). The consultant needs to internalize these skills and put them into practice regularly so that they become a part of the normal way of operating. Given the above, understanding the use of self becomes important in OD practice. The understanding of self originated in clinical psychology which then transcended into other fields including, Organizational Development. The psychoanalysts defined the id, ego and superego as components of self. Jung described self as an archetype called the "mandala" or magic circle which means that self is the center around which all the other systems revolve, it brings all the systems together (Hall, Lindzey, & Campbell, 2004). Moving from instincts and archetypes Adler proposed the importance of "social urges" (Hall et al., 2004) in development of self. He proposed a creative power of self, stating that man has the power to create the self through his heredity and experience in society. A similar perspective was proposed by philosopher George Mead (1934); stating that 'self is developed and defined within a group; when we are born there is no sense of self thus, self is developed through social interaction. Goffman (1959) also sees the identification of self to be in the presence of others. His perspective is that there is a role each person chooses to play in society and we know ourselves in that role, consequently that is how others come to know us as well. These two classic perspectives of self are important to our consideration of use of self for the OD consultant, as OD consultants are often in the context of a group and within the larger social structure of a firm.

Additionally, individuals have an innate tendency to grow and develop their self. …

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