The Director's & Officer's Guide to Advisory Boards

By Robert K. Mueller | Go to book overview
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3
COUNSELING VERSUS CONSULTING VERSUS MENTORING

To have no assistance from other minds in resolving doubts, in appeasing scruples, in balancing deliberations, is a very wretched destitution.

-- Samuel Johnson ( 1709-84)

A precursor to the next chapter's examination of the role of advisory boards is a better understanding of the process of consultation and advising in general. In particular, there are subtle distinctions between counseling, consulting, and mentoring. We do not have in the fields of management or governance a neat typology of the advisory process. Professor Edgar H. Shein of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers some help with two process models. 1

The most prevalent model in organizational consultation is the purchase model. This means the purchase of expert information or an expert service with or without joint diagnosis by the client and consultant.

The doctor-patient model involves an outside team of consultants or an individual expert looking over the situation to define the problem and recommend a corrective program. The process may or may not be a joint one between client and consultant. According to Schein, "Process consultation is a set of activities on the part of the consultant which helps the client to perceive, understand and act upon process events which occur in the client's environment." Process consultation is not normally the focus of outside advisory boards. They are generally focused on the external environment. Advisory board activity is,

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