Chris Hutchinson

NOTE: This is #10 in my series of most unforgettable people. I am certainly not done with this subject, but I will leave this for awhile and next week get back to some universal truths that I notice in everyday life. (NOTE: The complete list of 10 can be found on my website - www.stevemarshallassociates.com)

I know Chris Hutchinson and he is on this list because I think he is a pioneer in the world of process consulting. This is a field where the consultant becomes a temporary team member and helps their clients work through challenges by letting them find their own answers. This is opposed to the traditional model of consulting where the consultant is the expert and you are not! Process consulting also means that the good process consultant will work themselves out of a job by the effective transference of skills to the client.

I met Chris in 2011, upon the advice of a good friend - Lee Porter - who thought we might both benefit from meeting each other. Our first meeting was exploratory to assess fit for me with Chris' firm, Trebuchet Group. It looked like the type of work I could do, as it seemed like the same work I had been doing for over 25 years. Once again, my quick jump to conclusions personality handicap proved me wrong.

It was a completely different process than what I had done for years, with me being the subject matter expert and guiding the client to the answers I already had in mind. I quickly saw that not only was Chris completely proficient at what he did, but he also lived the credo he practiced.

In our world, we assess new clients with many different assessment tools, one of which indicates their proximity between their natural and adaptive styles - in other words how close are they to each other - the ideal - thereby providing us with a good view to how much they have to adapt their natural inclination to fit with their chosen avocation. This, along with other tools, helps us to chart a path for our work with a client, especially in the area of personal leadership training and development.

Chris's proximity between the two styles must be indistinguishable as he is the same person, no matter what he is doing. In short, he is a great fit for the work he does with the many clients he has in Northern Colorado and other places.

What have I learned from Chris? Many things and ideas, but here are four of note:

  1. Listen and listen some more. It is not about you, it is about the client; your job is to help them make good decisions by providing a safe environment to try out new behaviors, serve as a sounding board for them, and/or just be a trusted adviser to them when they need you.
  2. Pain is a primary motivator for change and really the main reason people will come to the point where they will make changes in their habits, their workplace or their lives. The good process consultant will facilitate the client's exposure to pain and then also provide a light at the end of the tunnel for the way out and toward new goals; hopefully, absent the pain.
  3. Effective teams in the workplace are the exception; not the norm - they just don't occur naturally; it must be an intentional process to form a high performing team. This can be messy, given that, as human beings, we are cognitive as well as affective creatures and under duress, the affective side of the brain can get the better of us and then we can react inappropriately. What Chris has been able to do is systematize processes in the area of team-building that allow people to explore some of the messy emotional changes that team members will have to make to work together effectively.
  4. Know what and why you are are doing something before you figure out how to do it. We are very proficient in this country at knowing how to do things; build bridges and tall buildings, take people into space, create a computer that can operate at incredible speeds, but often we bypass the harder question of why and what the outcome is that we hope to achieve by doing those very same things. Chris has a great little meme for remembering the difference and the correct order of these all important qualities: "We enable people to go to work (why) by providing transportation (what), by repairing their cars (how)."

Thanks, Chris.