Wednesday, September 9, 2009

You TOO, can be a Techni-HO

We embark on the Techni-HO journey for many reasons:

  • Downsized
  • Desire for independence
  • Desire to go broke
  • Hubris
  • Ego
  • Fired for inability to conform to authority
  • We don't fit in anywhere else
Couple this with a belief that what we have to offer is of value and we are on our way. My personal journey into Technical Consultancy was perhaps destiny or purely accidental. I am an engineer of low-regard who barely scraped my way through engineering school in 7 years (without a Masters or PhD). During my senior year I took a job with a technical training company as an engineering Co-Op student. The attainment of this job taught me the first of many lessons that I plan to impart to any viewers of this blog (once we get enough traffic, clicks and impressions).
Lesson 1: There is value in being a Bad Engineer (or insert your profession here)
As a poor engineer I had lots to offer to my prospective clients:

  • I learn slow (so I have to ask lots of questions)
  • I am accustomed to failing (a needed skill for consultants people who succeed often never adapt to the idea that their ideas might flop and are often afraid to suggest things)
  • I have the ability to overlook seemingly important details (a skill that all successful consultants must have).
In the realm of technical training, where I got my start into consulting, one learns quickly that you don't need to be very smart to be a highly successful trainer. No on the contrary we learned that in order to be good we only had to know more about the defined training topic than the students. Now we find that good engineers (or technicians) tend to have broad working knowledge of the systems in which they operate. Which can be very threatening to the consultant, but have no fear. Because you will be able to dazzle them with your brilliance in ONE or TWO areas of discussion. Which fortunately, is why they hired your or signed up for your class, or contracted your firm.

The take-away
The consultant Must be singular of focus, they must be willing to put aside other performance attributes for the SINGLE thing the customer asks (pays) for. Good engineers, or technicians, under the employ of the customer might accidentally see the shortcoming of a decided course of action as detrimental to the larger organization. But a consultant (being unburdened by this knowledge or moral compass) will determinedly pursue defined objective even if the long term benefit might not be there. After all that is what we hire them for. Short term gains. That after all is why we hired the techni-HO and that is what we can get from them. 
So, don't be afraid to take the leap (or perhaps the decision to go independent was not yours). After all, in the valley of the Blind the one-eyed man is King, and you my friends could very well be the just the one-eyed techni-HO that those blind Techni-johns are looking for.

(props to Eddie Murphy and SNL for the "Velvet Jones" line I am appropriating for my own use)

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