The P Words of Your Professional Practice: Process & Positioning

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It’s a busy and fun May. My Magic Marker Masterminders are coming for a retreat (as you read this, we’ll be smack in the middle of Day 1). And the week after that I travel to co-host a 2-day retreat for our THEO Accelerator. Both of these programs, in one way or the other, support participants in defining and aligning with their “IT” … most often some sort of helping or process professional venture (be it as a coach, therapist, counselor, consultant, facilitator, trainer, visual scribe, empathy/intuitive or other process oriented role). And, given my visual predilections, some are keen to integrate visual tools into how they work too.

In supporting these folks to be more fully who they authentically are, I find myself in our group and private sessions emphasizing two powerful P words over and over again: process and position.

Basic Definitions:
Process is what are they actually DOING with their clients … as in what is the flow, organization or structure of their work with their ideal clients (be they groups or individuals). And position is the highest altitude or BEING that they occupy or assume given the processes they are qualified to lead.

You May Have Several Process Competencies:
Some practitioners may have several processes that they are competent at (i.e. I am skilled in visual recording / scribing processes (taking visual summary notes), facilitation processes (most often strategic planning, team building and conflict resolution/mediation) and am a pioneer in visual coaching processes (our SHIFT-IT System® with its 17 visual maps is an example of a custom or signature process).

Careful Not to Sell Yourself Short:
It becomes important to position oneself around the highest value process that one is equipped to lead, to not market yourself too low down the value chain (even if scarcity thinking might influence you otherwise).

In the example I gave of myself, it wouldn’t behoove me to position myself as a visual recorder or scribe (even though I did this work for years and am skilled at it) as this would take away from my higher worth as a consultant, coach, facilitator and educator/mentor. Yes, I may occasionally take on work that is lower in scope than I am capable of, but it would be a mistake to strongly position myself in the marketplace at those more junior levels.

I recommend to my clients that they position themselves at the top of what they are capable of and cascade their offerings down from there (with the more junior stuff listed at the bottom or not at all).

Often people (especially women) position themselves too low down the value chain. My job as their business coach is to get them to value themselves and what they do properly. So they aren’t inadvertently shooting themselves in their own foot.

Put In Your Miles (you can’t skip steps):

Let me say that I strongly believe that one needs to put in the time to be decent, good and competent at your craft (read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers).

Often this means mileage, mileage, mileage — putting in the miles (and hours) to get good at the processes you deliver. Then you can ethically position yourself in the marketplace as you go.

I am a BIG fan of doing what you need to, to develop your chops (especially pro bono or lower fee work when you are starting out or adding a new skill to your repertoire). Then adapting your positioning accordingly. The more you do the better you get … and you can legitimately position yourself as an answer to your particular client base’s problems.

To Use Other’s Processes or to Create Your Own:
An issue that often comes up on the developmental path of a Process Professional is what processes to focus on and how to add them to your toolkit. Whether to use someone’s else processes or to go through the developmental curve of creating your own — or both (use others and your own).

Given I’m someone who certifies other professionals to use our own signature process, where it’s a fit, I fall on the side of using other’s processes where you are ethically empowered to. Many professionals and organizations empower others to use their intellectual property through various means. This can be an effective way to quickly and efficiently add a process to your toolkit. To make your segue to being an effective Process Professional a quicker one. And, you can always create your own processes with clear distinctions down the line when you have some more experience under your belt and move into territories where pre-created processes don’t exist yet.

There are many processes on the market that cater to Process Professionals, with various parameters and boundaries attached to them. These, particularly for newer or beginning practitioners, are a great way to get quick understanding and entry into a niche or access to handy tool(s). Here are a few of my favorite examples:

Our SHIFT-IT Visual Coaching System via Visual Coach Certification
The Grove’s Strategic Visioning Process
Global Business Network’s Scenario Planning
Carol Pearson’s Archetypes Methodology
Myers Briggs Typologies
The DISC Assessment

Being Ethical:
I’m preaching to the choir here, as folks who receive my eZine are most likely super ethical people … however an FYI that it is not cool to rip off other people’s processes. Yes, we get influenced by what we read, what we come into contact with and what we experience … that is natural. However, I belief that its not right to copy, mimic or downright borrow (steal) other people’s processes. They went to a lot of hard work, sweat, tears and probably investment to get their processes to where they are. It’s crappy to take without proper compensation and agreed upon attribution. Plus, you shoot yourself in that foot via the funky energy that such actions generate — the Law of Attraction has a way of creating an even score in very fitting ways so be forewarned on the boomerang effect!

Evolve As You Go:
Being a Process Professional is a wonderful adventure … one that can hold you in good stead for a lifetime career. It’s wonderful to have a profession that allows one to follow their interests and to change and adapt one’s work as their personage changes too. And to get better and better with seasoning and age. Wishing you all the best in the evolution of your adventures as an effective Process Professional!

P.S. Are you establishing a new Process Practice? Are you a seasoned Process Professional in the midst of revamping your practice to make it authentic to who you are now? If so, check out our upcoming Outer Work Course: Biz Essentials for Process Professionals. 10 Weeks Online, Starts Wednesday, May 22nd!

©2013 Christina L. Merkley

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Author’s Bio: Christina Merkley, “The SHIFT-IT Coach” and creator of the SHIFT-IT System®, is a Visioning and Strategic Planning Expert specializing in Visual Thinking and Law of Attraction techniques. Based in charming Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, she works deeply with individuals, partners and conscious businesses to define and manifest what they truly want. And, trains other process professionals in her innovative ways of working. For more information visit: and

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