OD Process Consulting Using a Dialogic Approach

dialogic OD


Process Consultation is one of the early foundations of OD, introduced by Edgar Schein in the late 1960s. He defined Process Consultation as a series of activities performed by the consultant to help the client focus on the “why” versus the “how” to help the client perceive, understand, and act upon events that are occurring in their environment.
Dialogic Process Consulting focuses on dialogic processes that help shape individual, group, and organizational mindsets. Through deep listening, consultants listen to the client and develop more understanding about the unspoken mindsets, assumptions, cultural differences, and their client’s beliefs and perceptions based on what they are saying and how they are saying it. The Dialogic Process Consultant’s role is to extract metaphors, analogies, images, themes, storylines, and observe what was said and not said.

Here are some tips for deep listening:

● Listen for information the client is trying to convey

● Listen for explicit metaphors, analogies, word images, themes, and storylines

● Listen for implicit metaphors, word images, storylines and themes

● Listen for what is said or emphasized and what is not said

Through deep listening, the consultant gains more opportunity to help the client gain more meaning from discussion through five transforming processes:
1. Reflecting,
2. Reframing,
3. Rethinking,
4. Releasing, and
5. Reintegration.

  1. In reflective dialogue the consultant helps the clients become more aware of their present mindset and how it might be limiting their thinking. Do you think others see it the same way you do? What could be some alternate points of view?
  2. In reframing dialogue, the consultant invites or reframes the situation to help the client to think differently about the situation they are facing and help the client look at it through a different lens to generate new thoughts and actions. Let’s look at the situation differently from the employees’ point of view. How would they see it?
  3. Encouraging the client to rethink how they might change a situation, by raising questions about their view or perception and helping them change their way of thinking. If you looked at this situation differently, what would you do or say?
  4. Releasing is a technique to help clients release any anxiety associated with thinking and behaving in new ways. By demonstrating positive regard, and feeling-based dialogue, you might ask: “How are you feeling right now?” or “I’m wondering how your thoughts and feelings have changed now that you are looking at this situation in a new way?” How will you address your changed views with your team?”
  5. Reintegrating – The next step to helping the client reintegrate the learning into new ways of thinking and behaving, emotional and cognitive realignment must occur. The consultant supports and reinforces the leader as they deal with their changed mindset and develop new meanings.


The role of the OD Process Consultant is to help the client understand the reality of what is happening and act accordingly.  OD Process Consultants can become more effective when mastering the dialogic practice of deep listening through reflection, reframing, rethinking, releasing, and redirecting to help the client change old beliefs and develop new mindsets to change behavior and become more effective.

References:  Dialogic Process Consulting, Generative Meaning-Making In Action, Robert J. Marshak, 2020, BMI Publishing, North Vancouver, BC. Canada.

About the Author:

Dr. Nancy Zentis is the CEO of the Institute of OD, offering online certification programs for those interested in Organization Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development and Executive Coaching, and OD Advanced Skills courses for ongoing learning.  She can be reached at info@instituteod.com.  For more information about our certification programs and short courses, please visit our website www.instituteod.com.

About Institute of Organization Development

 IOD offers online Organization Development Certification Programs to help participants gain skills to advance in their careers in the field of OD.  If you are new to OD, you will benefit from the OD Process Consulting Certification Program (ODPC).  If you have been in the field for several years but lack formal OD training, the Organization Development Certification Program (ODCP) will provide you with the tools and skills needed to advance in the field of OD.  For those interested in advancing to the consultant level, we offer our advanced ODCC Certification, (ODCC)


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