Best of aea365 week: Mike Morris on Managing Relationships with Stakeholders

My name is Mike Morris and I’m Professor of Psychology at the University of New Haven, where I direct the Master’s Program in Community Psychology. My research focuses on ethical issues in evaluation, and I am an Associate Editor of the American Journal of Evaluation. The best book I’ve ever read for managing my relationships with stakeholders in an evaluation was not written by an evaluator, nor was it written specifically for evaluators.

Rad Resource: Peter Block (2000). Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

2014 Update:  Flawless Consulting is now in its 3rd edition (2011).

Among organizational consultants this book is legendary. Evaluation is, in my view, one form of consultation, so it’s not surprising that Block’s book is relevant to our work. His discussion of such issues as entry/contracting, dealing with resistance, and managing the feedback of results is invaluable. Central to his analysis is the concept of “authenticity,” which means putting into words what you are experiencing with stakeholders as you work with them. It might sound a bit scary at first, but the more you practice it, the more effective at managing these relationships you become. I also believe that Block’s approach to consulting can enhance the ethical quality of evaluations, especially in terms of helping evaluators identify strategies for raising and pursuing ethical issues with stakeholders.

Flawless Consulting is exceedingly well-written. It probably helps that Block does not have a doctoral degree, since writing a dissertation is a process that can extinguish one’s ability to compose a sentence that anyone would be interested in reading. Flawless Consulting gets very positive reviews from my students. I hope you’ll agree with them. 

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Best of aea365 week. The contributions all this week are reposts of great aea365 blogs from our earlier years. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

1 thought on “Best of aea365 week: Mike Morris on Managing Relationships with Stakeholders”

  1. Kia ora Mike. Excellent post.

    Flawless Consulting has been my touchstone for a decade. It should be compulsory reading for all evaluators. The most influential aspect for me is his hierarchy of legitimate consultant categories; the critical friend, the manager’s helpmate and the spare pair of hands. He argues and demonstrates that you can very easily slide “down” the list but you can never go “up” the list. I often pause and consider which of these roles I’m playing in particular evaluations and if its lower than the role I started with (or even desired) then what happened to place me in the new role. Like Block suggests, it can happen in an instant – just a casual remark or request – and once you are on the slide down there is no easy way back

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