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Consulting project stages
Typical Project Stages


Any project may involve one or more stages. Although all of this list may not be used, those that are will generally follow this order. Expanded definitions of each one are given below.

Initial contact 

Testing the fit 

Defining the engagement   [read]

Contracting  [read]

Starting the work  [read]

Continuation  [read]

Conclusion  [read]

Initial Contact


The easiest way to get in touch with EO is to contact Don Yates by:

Phone   650.851.2690

Email     contact@extraordinaryorganizations.com

When you contact him, he will be looking for the best way for you to start getting to know each other. This is essential because the quality of the relationship will determine how well he will be able to serve you. He will usually suggest that you meet. If at all possible, this will be over a meal because it is relaxed, and there is something about eating together that seems to help the process.


Testing the Fit


The next step is for Don to learn about your needs and for you to learn about what he has to offer. Although you may finish this during your first meeting, it will probably take more time than that. He will usually visit your office and meet some of your people. He may do a small piece of demonstration work with you like helping you design a meeting or participate in one so that you, and possibly others, can see if his style and capability seem right for you. He may also give you one or more pieces he has written to let you learn more about what he knows and how he thinks.

In a fairly short time both you and he will know if he is the right person to help you. He has found that there is seldom disagreement on this, whether the answer is yes or no. This means that if the answer does turn out to be no, you part amicably often with the agreement that at another time the fit might be right. If the answer is yes, you move on to define the engagement.


Defining the Engagement


At this point you will mutually agree on the design of the engagement. As with any activity, you will look at the four factors of any activity:

  • The purpose of the engagement
  • The products or outcomes that will fulfill it.
  • The process, or at least the approach to it, that you will use to generate those outcomes.
  • The capabilities each party will need to provide to support and make possible the process.





Once the engagement has been defined you will agree on the method of contracting. EO has worked based on verbal agreements and with written contracts. This usually depends on how formal your contracting procedures are. However, it is generally better if there is some form of written agreement that assures everyone has a clear understanding. The basic intention is to develop a strong relationship. Therefore, the contracting is primarily around how the parties will work together and how you will value the work.


Starting the Work


There are two steps to actually starting the work. One of these is for the catalyst to get to know your organization and for your people to get to know him. He usually does this through a period of talking with individuals and groups. There is no set pattern to this, and it continues as he gets more involved. However, the first pass at it will probably be accomplished in a day or two at most.

The second step is for you to decide just where you want to start working. Although together you will have outlined the process before starting, you will have to now decide on the specific starting point. This will usually be in the area of greatest value and urgency to you. You also want to start work in an area where the catalyst can meld into what is going on rather than create some new effort around his working with you. The whole point is to start getting as much return on investment of time as possible and to cause as little perturbation of your organization as possible.




Once started, the work evolves as the relationship grows. You come to understand how best to work together and where to work to produce the most value. One process you will develop is a way to assess, as you move along, how you are doing. This allows you to maintain and grow both your relationship and the results you get from it. In this way you together assure that the engagement is positive for all involved.




Often you cannot clearly see the exact end point at the beginning. Even if that is so, you will both know when it is time to stop. Some outside event may force this. More often, though, you will have a sense that you have fulfilled the purpose you first defined. You may agree on a time to restart, or you may just let it present itself. However the end occurs, Don has almost always found it to be a positive situation leaving you with an ongoing relationship that with some of his previous clients has lasted many years as a strong personal friendship.

© 2003
Extraordinary Organizations
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