In traditional consulting, an external consultant is hired to study a company and suggest ways to improve the organization. This typically involves interviewing a few key stakeholders, conduct focus group meetings for a selected few and carry out a general survey for all other employees to understand the company better. After analyzing the findings, the consultant will present a list of recommendations to the management team. The consultant is usually an industry expert with a wealth of experiences and this is what makes his opinions counts.
On the other hand, in facilitative consulting, the people are highly involved in both identifying issues and recommending solutions. The facilitator does not need to be an industry subject matter expert, but he needs to be well verse in facilitation practices and creating a participatory environment is one such practice. The key difference between traditional and facilitative consulting is the recommendations put forward are by the people, for the people.
While both methods have their merits, facilitative approaches are becoming increasingly popular amongst organizations and below are some reasons why:
- Everyone involved has a chance to contribute and feels they are an integral part of the team.
- Leaders and managers are able to draw more on their staffs knowledge, experiences and expertise.
- Team members are more supportive of the decisions made because of their involvement in the process.
- Ideas feed on each other to create new possibilities.
- Everyone feels heard and this increase “buy in” to whatever decisions the group arrives at.
- Resolve conflicts and clarifying misunderstandings in a constructive manner.
- Team members learn more about the group and this deepens their connection with each other.