I’m in the middle of a break in the Yarra Valley of Victoria with my family enjoying introducing our kids and dog (who is also one of the kids) to snow for the first time and enjoying all the other pleasures of this region such as rolling hills, cattle, sheep, good wine, chocolate, cheese and solidarity.
But, of course, I couldn’t help but recharge with a motivational book. I’m rereading Linchpin by Seth Godin. It’s a great book on change agents, or what Seth calls ‘Artists’. These are the map makers, the risk takers, the ones who thrive on the things that haven’t been done yet, and jobs that can’t be reduced to a simple checklist.
He has some thought provoking thoughts, such as if your job is easily measured, it’s probably easy to find someone else to do it. Do you really need the platform your job is giving you, or could you do it by yourself? Particularly now in an age of self publishing and flexible commercial arrangements.
I think back to my days in finance, pre consulting. How much was cog work, and how much was artistry? How much was simply responding to allocated tasks, and how much more could I have done with that time?
Consulting gives you a simpler platform to apply this. The problems we solve should always be strategic, and if it were as simple as just applying a methodology, framework or case study, you could just outsource the whole thing and do it a lot cheaper than an onshore consultant.
The biggest thing I’ve learnt in the last decade is to trust my instincts, to not assume that others know the best answer and they’ve done all the work and I should find the answer in a textbook somewhere. There is so much nuance and context in every situation and it’s our own work, curiosity and care that produces art. There is always tons to learn and to reuse, but it’s an input, not a solution. I’ve also found it impossible to solve any problem worth solving without a bit of chaos at the beginning before you start making sense of it.
A cog says, “it’s out of scope”, an artist says “maybe there’s another way to do it”.