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Consulting That Matters

A Handbook for Scholars and Practitioners

Jennifer H. Waldeck and David R. Seibold

Each year, thousands of consulting contracts are awarded by organizations to experts who help them with challenges involving people, processes, technologies, goals, resource allocation, decision making, problem solving, and more. These experts – consultants – diagnose problems, recommend solutions, facilitate interventions, and evaluate outcomes that are often related to human communication. Some consultants are academicians skilled in both doing and interpreting research for clients; others are practitioners with little use for research and theory. Driving all of the ideas showcased in Consulting That Matters: A Handbook for Scholars and Practitioners is the premise that sound theory and research are critical to consulting success, and should be the blueprints for successful organizational transformation. Thus, this book is for all types of consultants, including the very best who are at the top of their games and those who believe theory and research belong in ivory towers, not business settings. Featuring a «who’s who» of preeminent communication scholars/consultants, each author shares frameworks, strategies, and examples from their own diverse experiences, all grounded in rich, substantive theory and research. The volume offers even the most skilled and experienced consultants a range of alternative approaches, paradigms, and competencies to build their credibility and make them more valuable to their clients in a dynamic, ever-evolving business climate.
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Preface

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Each year, thousands of consulting contracts are awarded by organizations to experts that help them with challenges involving people, processes, technologies, goals, resource allocation, decision making, problem solving, and more. These experts—consultants—diagnose problems, recommend solutions, facilitate interventions, and evaluate outcomes. Many times, these consultants are academics with some special expertise in the area of the organization’s concerns; other times, they are employees of large or small professional consulting firms who do this type of work on a full-time basis. Although consulting is often associated with the “corporate world,” consultants also provide consulting services to federal, state, and local governments; nonprofit organizations; healthcare facilities; educational institutions; start-up firms; and those enterprises specializing in creative, technical, intellectual, and manufacturing work.

Over the past thirty years, the editors of this volume, who are college professors, have engaged in a variety of consulting activities that have enriched our teaching and scholarship in significant ways. Simultaneously, we have encountered colleagues who resisted consulting because they did not view it as an intellectually enriching activity, and full-time practitioners who sought greater credibility and substance in all they did. The former group failed to realize the potential of the reciprocal relationship between scholarship and action. The latter group wanted to do what they were doing, but better. Whether they were delivering training, writing curriculum, developing leaders, building teams, designing effective systems ← ix | x →and processes, mediating conflict, helping organizations facilitate change, or any number of other activities, these professionals expressed a...

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