Consulting Tools - Thinking, Modeling, and Inquiry

Ever wonder what tools make a consultant effective? It may be a long list. If you read The Opposable Mind - How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking, it is obvious that consultant would benefit from most of the process techniques that Roger Martin talks about in this book. The three that stood out for me are:
  • Generative Thinking - Pondering along the lines of 'what might be'.
  • Causal Modeling - What causes Something, and what's the purpose of that something.
  • Assertive Inquiry - Asking questions that encourages dialog, rather than shut it down.
The Process of Thinking and Deciding is a good revelation of how a lot of us reach decisions. Recollecting my interactions on past engagements, it is quite obvious that these patterns have serviced me well. I was, until now, unaware of their interdependence and collective power. 
Going forward, it'll likely serve me as a good framework for interviewing candidates who aspire to be consultants. I have never been subjected to an interview myself where someone tried to assess these skills. That clearly demonstrate how much little we understand and value the utility of these tools in our professional lives, or so it seems.

Got Agile?

VersionOne released The State of Agile Development report for 2008. A few days ago I wrote about barriers to Lean implementations, which is available here.  It is interesting to see that the barriers to further adoption of Agile are not very different from those of Lean implementations. 44% attribute it to "General Resistance to Change", 45% to "Ability to Change Organizational Culture", and 32% to "Management Support". 
To avoid stalling, as I read it, it is important to concentrate on the soft issues as much, if not
 more. Experience and know-how of Agile technicalities is not sufficient to ensure success.
It seems that Agile has reached a point where it has ceased to be a technical challenge. Agile is now a cultural challenge. Either address the fundamental issue of resistance to change, be ready to get mediocre returns for your buck.