Over the past two years, more than 150 organizational consultants serving progressive social change leaders have taken our master class, the Art of Transformational Consulting. The five-day workshop is an intensive, immersive experience, and it is just the beginning of a longer journey towards greater power and effectiveness for the change agents we serve.
Now that ATC alumni have reached a critical mass, STP is focused on supporting the network to expand their ability to learn and collaborate together to build more powerful social justice movements.
ATC alumni are eager to share their learning and challenges with each other as they practice integrating a systemic approach to change with the clients and organizations they serve. We’ve already seen peer-to-peer learning and collaborations enable consultants to create breakthroughs in impact and effectiveness for their clients.
One forum for this ongoing support has been Community of Practice gatherings, two-day events to which all ATC alumni are invited. The second gathering just took place April 14-16 in New York City. Community of Practice gatherings provide opportunities to expand and strengthen professional networks, refine and deepen practices learned in the ATC training, and give and receive thoughtful feedback on client work. More than two thirds of ATC alumni have attended one or both Community of Practice gatherings.
A few themes emerged during the most recent gathering.
One is how unique this ATC network is. Our alumni are leaders in the field of organizational development, all with a social justice focus. Most have more than 10 years of consulting experience. More than half the group are people of color, the LGBT community is well represented, and they hail from across the country. There is a mix of unaffiliated independent consultants and those affiliated with leading agencies and consultant groups like Haas, Jr. Plan consultants, Management Assistance Group, Interaction Institute for Social Change, Movement Strategy Center, Third Sector New England, RoadMap, and InPartnership, among others. All that makes this a very unique and potent group.
We also heard loud and clear how valuable these connections are, not just for consultants but for their clients. Participants from both events reported their most important takeaways came from learning from each other, exchanging feedback on client work, and hearing what peers are working on. Inspired, well-resourced consultants provide better results for their clients, strengthening the leadership, strategy, and culture of the progressive movement.
There was also a strong interest in grappling with systemic issues in progressive movements. There is great potential to bring the collective expertise of this group to bear on issues that affect us all, such as funding for capacity building or best practices around sustainable work culture. It also raises the question — who are “we” as consultants, what defines this particular group of consultants, and for some… do we have to use the word consultants?!
We want to support this community to have these conversations and dig into these important questions, so in the coming months we’ll be creating new platforms for connection and collaboration among this group. We’ll make it easy for alumni to see who is in the network, what they’re working on and interested in, and provide easy ways to get in touch with each other so they can find thought partners, collaborators, peer coaches, etc.
This is about supporting the people who are supporting the progressive movement. We’re very excited to see what emerges!