Recently, I transitioned from an external organization development consultant to an internal organization development consultant.

As I went through this change, I noticed that things became incoherent.

And by incoherent, I mean that my sense of identity shifted, and the shift caused some loss of;

  • Who am I?
  • What am I doing?
  • Where does my work begin and end?
  • How does my process pick up?

This incoherence meant that the voice inside my head that interacts and gives me the identity of myself and who I am over a long period was not consistent.

I experienced some exciting things as an external organization development consultant and now as an employee. 

Today I’m going to walk through some perspectives I’m picking up early in my new role on how we see internal versus external consulting and expertise.

Sharing this wonderful quote that comes from a gentleman named Burke. But I initially found it in Chris Mowles’s book Complexity.

It’s appropriate for anybody who has just joined an organization or joined a new team.

“Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late when you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it’s about.

In fact, the discussion has already begun long before any of them got there so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that you have gone before.

You listen for a while until you decide that you have caught enough of the tenure of the argument. Then you put in your oar, someone answers. You answer him. Another comes to your defense, another allies himself against you to either the embarrassment or the gratification of your opponents, depending on the quality of your ally’s assistance.

However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart, and you depart with the discussion still vigorously in progress.” (Burke, 1941)

What an excellent way to look at an organization; it’s a long, consistent conversation of individuals inside the organization interacting.

They’re being coherent. And when you look at an organization, you enter into something you’re not aware of.

The middle is something you walk into, and the end you’re not going to see as you leave.

Two major areas that I’m currently experiencing inside this new organization.

The power of allies 

When you have an ally that has sway and impact in the organization, it can help you navigate the hurdles and constant need to make it inside this environment. It enables you to do better if your allies are those people who are in the know. If your allies are on the fringe and aren’t part of the structural conversation of groups, it’s tough to fit in and feel a sense of purpose inside the organization.

Allies matter.

Allies matter deeply to your work and fitting in the organization and feeling part of the work.

The need for other folks in the room to help you understand the context of what’s going on

So when you walk in that room, you think you know what is happening, you may not.

Other people will give you context based upon their perspective, and you need to gather that context and hear their feedback and ideas.

Coherence to who you are in the story you tell yourself and your interactions with that voice inside your head.

At some point, that voice is going to be incoherent or inconsistent.

That means you are challenging your identity as a person.

Who am I over time?

Am I consistent?

Coherence and shifts in environment or changes in jobs like I just went through cause inconsistent incoherence in what you’re currently doing?

This matters because you have to try to create coherence as quickly as possible.

I’ll say as quickly, but you want to try to create coherence to understand who you now are.

If you live in consistent incoherence, you’ll feel stress and burnout.

Inside and Outside Understanding of Expertise

inside outside expertise mike cardus