What do I Do: the box I fit into

What do I do?

I get asked this question all the time; for years I have been asked this question. At the beginning of my career I could say I was an accounting student, or an accountant, and people understood this. However, the more education and experience I got, the more difficult it became to say precisely what I did. 

When I became self-employed, I used to say that I did knowledge management consulting, and I did, but people (mostly) didn’t understand what that meant, so I tried to explain. I could give examples of projects that I had done and the impact that it had had, and they sort of understood, but not really. They smiled and nodded and we moved onto another subject.

I have been self-employed for 16 years, my consulting practice has changed and evolved, the “how” of what I do has changed. I now incorporate artistic methods/thinking into what I do (the truth is, they was there all along, I just didn’t have a name for it, much like the agile, and design thinking practices I incorporated in to my methodology, without having a name for them either). But, honestly, no one cares about the “how”, they care about the results. 

What are my results? 

I stop you from failing with your big, unwieldy projects and programs. Your big, cross-functional, cross-organisational initiatives, that don’t neatly fit into a box. Those initiatives that have lots of stakeholders, lots of moving parts, lots of conflicting objectives. They have technology, they have processes, they have people.

Examples: One organisation recognised an ROI of 165%, while another was prevented from throwing out a million dollar (Cdn) IT investment and starting over.

In the current environment, these projects are called digital transformation, and up to 95% of them fail. When I first started, they were mostly called knowledge management, and somewhere around 50% of them failed. Certainly, one of the first KM projects I did had failed twice previously under different project managers, and I came along and did it using an iterative, collaborative approach (what might be called agile and design thinking now). Not only did I have a successful pilot with 100 people, but eventually had almost 7000 people using the platform, which increased to 10,000 on the momentum of what I had started even after I left the organisation. 

Since going out on my own, I have helped other organisations do this—well, at least the ones that trusted me. There were some that were uncomfortable with my cross-functional, collaborative, iterative approach, and so shelved my work, which is their prerogative. 

My success is built on experience, trial and error, persistence, collaboration, communication, curiosity, critical thinking, leadership, and a willingness to admit that I don’t know the answer but I’ll find out. There is no course that teaches these things, only experience. 

Courses and certifications teach theory, they teach best practices. But as anyone who knows about best practices will tell you, best practices are dependant on the organisation, the situation, the culture, the people, the technology, and the processes. Best practices from one situation/organisation will not necessarily give the same results somewhere else. 

Experience takes best practices and asks the question, how do we take that and make it work here, in this environment, with this technology, with these people?

What do I do?

I ask the questions, and I successfully plan and execute big, unwieldy projects.

Boxes I Fit Into

I have written/spoken a few times lately about how I don’t fit into a box, and that’s true, I fit into many boxes, based on my education, experiences, and areas of expertise. Here is a list*, in alphabetical order:

Abstract Expressionist
Accountant
Agile Implementer of Solutions
Analyst
Artist
Author
Big Picture Seer
Business Analyst
Business Process Analyst
Business-Technology Aligner
Catalyst
Challenger of assumptions
Change Manager
Chaos Organiser
Coach
Collaborator
Communicator
Community Builder
Connector
Consultant
Creative
Critical Thinker
Culture Changer
Decision Maker
Design Thinker
Digital Transformer
Executer
Facilitator
Financial Analyst
Follower
Gamification Consultant
Human’s First Advocate
Implementer
Influencer
Information Technology Process Consultant
Innovator
ITSM Master
Knowledge Management Expert
Knowledge Manager
Leader
Learner
Listener
Manager
Marketer
MBA
Mentor
Networker
Organiser
Painter
Planner
Problem Solver
Process Analyst
Process Designer
Process Thinker
Product Manager
Program Manager
Project Manager
Public Speaker
Questioner
Realiser of Potential
Sales Person
Solopreneur
Strategist
Strategy Developer/Creator/Implementer
Taxonomy Developer
Teacher
Team Builder
Technology Person
Technology Requirements Analyst


*I reserve the right to add to/edit this list

Entelechy: a poem

Realise your potential.
Realise your team’s potential.
Realise your organisation’s potential.

Do you know how?

Engage the whole person: the analytical part AND the creative part.

Stop forcing people into boxes.
Engage the whole person.

They will be better off.
The team will be better off.
The organisation will be better off.

Productivity, is that all there is?

(this blog post originally appeared on my Missing Puzzle Piece Consulting blog in April 2017, and I expressed similar thoughts in a chapter I wrote for KM Matters, which was published early in 2018. I am reproducing it here, because I will be taking my Missing Puzzle Piece Consulting webpage down, and this content is still relevant.)

We seem to have spent so much time in the last 100+ years trying to drive efficiency and effectiveness into our processes. How to do things faster, with more quality, with better outcomes, reduce waste, reduce re-work. These are not bad things, but in our push to be effective and efficient many of our organisations have removed time for reflection, for questioning, for considering alternatives out of the process.

That’s not to say that there hasn’t been a lot of innovation in the last 100+ years, there most definitely has been. Whole areas of study have been developed/discovered, new technology is being developed all the time, but what about the “smaller” things, everyday things. What happens when we take away the time to think and reflect? We do things by rote, not thinking about if that’s the right thing to do, we get tired and suffer burnout, we start to make mistakes and treat people badly because we have focused on efficiency and effectiveness to the detriment of the system as a whole (see United Airline’s complete failure to respect passengers  (https://fortune.com/2017/04/11/united-airlines-video/ and https://innovationexcellence.com/blog/2017/04/17/innovating-for-a-worse-customer-experience-insights-from-united-airlines/ and https://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/03/27/united-airlines-bars-teens-from-flight-for-failure-to-meet-dress-code-social-media-erupts/)

How do we bring that space for reflection, for some humanity back into our activities? By introducing time. Time for reflection, time for learning, time for asking questions, time for talking to other people, time for doing things differently, time for experimenting. Time.