The OD Consultant – what does good look like?


The National Occupational Standards for Management and Business Consultancy have been developed by researching international best practice in consultancy.

The Standards are divided into 4 sections:

  1. Develop and manage relationships
  2. Work with the client to identify their needs and agree solutions
  3. Support the client in achieving sustainable solutions
  4. Maintain professional standing.

These are not necessarily intended to form a chronological sequence, however what is clear is that “effective consultants transfer knowledge and skills and build their clients’ capacity and competence at the same time as providing support to implement solutions”.

I’m reminded of the “Practitioner values” (J. Stewart 1991) needed in managing change in order “to achieve external adaptation and internal integration” …………………




For me these are “core” characteristics, or indeed competencies?

These are no better exampled than in an extract from the “Barefoot Guide” (

“I spent a winter with them, watching how they talked, the way the director would turn when asked a question; the subtle order of tea and coffee.

They asked: ‘When will we start changing?’ They said: ‘Nice work if you can get it. What is it you actually do?’

I smiled and shared their jokes; I asked them what they thought they were, animal, plant, mineral, machine.

At first, they were hesitant and recited the company line and spoke eloquently of vision, mission, goals. No heart.

But one day over lunch a quiet secretary whispered that they were an orchestra only some of the instruments had been neglected and most were out of tune.

I went along to a rehearsal and sure enough there were broken strings, a battered flute, a drum whose skin was torn. And still I listened.

A board member waylaid me in the stalls. ‘We are a ship,’ he said, ‘more or less sound, but battered by the storm.’ I looked out of the window and truly the horizon was askew.

The woman who headed HR reminded me of the calibre of the crew But the woman who made the tea said ‘ No-one speaks to me.’

I was the loom on which they wove the cloth of their past, their present and at last their future. I was the canvas on which they drew the cartoon strip of their progress.

I’d brought a bag of tools but, to be frank I never opened it. They had their own, unusual, but well-adapted for use by musicians on a stormy sea.

While they patched holes and mended strings, I was their temporary harbour.

For a while I was popular and enjoyed a certain notoriety but slowly they became absorbed in their own music, plotted their own course. They were so busy listening to each other, they forgot me.

I left them sailing up the Amazon playing a Strauss waltz conducted by the woman who made the tea”.

For a copy of the Management Consultancy Competence overview used in my Masters Diploma accreditation, e-mail


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