Friday, October 2, 2009

Consulting tips: drink the kool-aid, believe and practice what you sell

As a Techni-HO you probably from time to time will have to advocate strategies and practices that in previous life seemed abhorrent to you. After all, you collect fees from clients to serve them and not yourself. Similar to the power of "we" "drinking the Kool-aid" is a highly necessary and powerful consulting tool that one must develop with prowess if one is to succeed.

The easiest thing is to only do and support the ideas that you believe, however if life was that easy we wouldn't need "blood sucking parasites" like consultants in the first place. So the next best strategy is to find the little things that work and apply them to your consulting work whole heartedly to the point of near fanatacism. One example for me was 5S and the visual workplace. I am a sloppy person I thrive in a certain level of chaos in my desk and car. So when the project I supported started promoting 5S it really was a moral dilemma (I ran work shops teaching the methods that I could not truly support personally). The work became painful, dull, and irritating.

In order for me to get through I started 5Sing (not really a word?) Everything; fanatically- my desk, the drawers, my car, my entire on project existence (I went so far as to mark out a place for my mug and the cord of my phone) once I was fully entrenched into the overzealous application of the method, I found humor and fun in my madness. Since the coffee cup could never make it back to the right spot, I glued a coaster with the green boundary around the base and properly labeled "Kam's coffee mug".

This mis-application of the method showed a very entrenched knowledge of the system to my "trick" and taught me to believe in what was useful about the method and where to draw the line. I started to believe, after that the training was better for them and me. Drinking the Kool-aid required the leap of faith on my part and in doing so - gained the trust of my client. Which was truly the problem at the beginning they could see I did not practice what I preached and may have been flogging the flavor of the month.

Now the world is filled with more systems (lean this and that, green initiatives, and new flavors of the month) take a step towards the edge, embrace the dark side, and drink the Kool-aid. Otherwise you are merely "whoring".

Eric Kam, broadcasting from an undisclosed location via BlackBerry

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