All in Management Consulting

Living On Your Own Terms

When I got into consulting in the mid-nineties, I did so with the expectation that I was going into a field that was focused on driving change. That we were there to make a difference, and to improve the lot of our clients. And that doing so required people who were committed to that process, both within the firm I worked for and at the client. Generally speaking, that expectation proved to be the reality.

"It’s Like A Pizza..."

Many years ago, I worked with a senior consulting partner who liked to talk in puzzles. Instead of giving us specific marching orders, he’d talk around the issues and then ask us to put together a deck for his review.

For example, as we’d talk through a proposal we were working on, he’d talk about the client situation, the range of issues they were facing as well…

The Thing About Politics...

…Is that there really isn’t any such thing.

In popularity contests of any significance (where a sizable population is asked for its endorsement of an individual or a subject or an action), the landslide win is not a common occurrence. More prevalent (in my admittedly unscientific assessment) is the close race, where the margin of victory is in single digit percentage points.

The Thing About Mandates...

…Is that there really isn’t any such thing.

In popularity contests of any significance (where a sizable population is asked for its endorsement of an individual or a subject or an action), the landslide win is not a common occurrence. More prevalent (in my admittedly unscientific assessment) is the close race, where the margin of victory is in single digit percentage points.

No One Likes Surprises

When it comes to the work we do, no one likes surprises.

It doesn’t matter which part of the organization you sit in - client management, operations, marketing or elsewhere - one of the fundamental tenets of corporate performance is predictability. We want to know what’s happening, why and, if necessary, what we need to do about it.

The Problem With Getting An Education

We have this obsession, usually rightly so, with organized, accredited education. In an era when economic disparity and the income gap is at its widest, getting a “proper education” isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.  

Which is something most of us agree on, plus the fact that a proper education is defined as not simply completing high school, but obtaining a college degree, at minimum. I think I’m on pretty safe ground when I say that.

"Turn Them Off and See Who Complains..."

How many newsletters do you get in your inbox every day? How many emails do you get with an update on some issue or department or project? How many notifications do you get on your phone with the latest piece of “must-have” information?

Now, how many of them do you actually read?

The Myth of The Top Ten List

There are at least 15 colleges that deserve a place in the top 10 best colleges in the country. There are 20 restaurants that can credibly argue that they are one of the 5 best restaurants in your city. And if you and I were so inclined, we could absolutely name 25 guitarists who could reasonably stake a claim to being among the 10 best guitarists ever.

The Point Is Productive Struggle

We crave clear cut answers. We love How-To’s. We keep looking for the ultimate 10 Step Process.

Why? Because we’re always on the hunt for clarity, predictability and, more to the point, security. It’s a natural human desire.

The problem, though, is that when we’re creating (a team, a piece of output, a business), that’s not often possible or realistic.

The Path To Success Isn't a Straight Line

We tend to romanticize the path to success. We maintain this perception that getting there was a straight-forward path. Particularly when we see others achieve it. This view that these folks took step 1, then step 2, and so on and so forth, until they achieved what they set out to do. That it was a clean path. That things just happened for them.

The truth is…

It's About Your Expectations And Action

It's natural. We start a new project or new initiative and we get excited, as we should be. We see the potential for change, the potential impact and we want to make sure it's a success.

So we plan. We think through our goals, all the needs and requirements, where we need to get  to. We identify the piece parts needed to make for our definition of success, because…

Don’t Join The Herd

A few years ago, Professor Jens Krause at the University of Leeds conducted numerous experiments where he and his team asked groups of people to walk randomly around a large hall. Unbeknownst to the majority, a few individuals were given specific instructions as to where they should walk. No one in the group (informed or otherwise) was allowed to communicate (verbal or non-verbally) and everyone had to stay within arms length of each other. 

Trust Your Gut

There are times when persistence, dedication, devotion are absolutely essential. Nothing great has ever been achieved by flitting from one activity to another, without considered thought for quality, without regard for tangible results. Success - however you define it - depends on this.

But to persist in situations that don't align with your inherent values, that don't feel right in that regard, is a recipe for failure.

Bite Off Only What You Can Chew

It's happened to all of us. We start on a change program, get excited about the possibilities and the agenda we've laid out. We foresee the change we need to create and what it's going to take for us to get there. And it's awesome.

But driving this change - as we expect - requires a lot of work. Many special projects and tasks that have to get done. (All while we're juggling our regular day job.)

Don't Let Your Process Shackle You

Process helps. For so many aspects of our lives that we grapple with, someone, somewhere has defined a process, and it's one that works. Especially when it comes to routine, straightforward activities.

But for many other decision areas, from making the sale to conducting an analysis to hiring an employee, processes exist, and they help, but only to a certain extent.