I listened to a lot of whining this week. It was partly sad, partly frustrating. New consultants – unaware of what we really do – have a list of reasons why it is hard:
- I can’t get the data, so that’s why I am behind
- I sent an email; don’t know why they won’t answer
- ABC told me to do that, I was just following instructions
- There’s so much work to do
Consultants talk about options, not problems. We solve business problems. That is what we do. Business problems are messy, annoying, unclear, and painful. That is why they pay us well to do this work. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
As mature consultants, if we find ourselves complaining about – instead of solving – problems, we need to take a time out. . . leave the room, and come back in. If you have issues with the project, put it into buckets:
Constraints. Is this something that I cannot change at all? Is it a sunk cost?
Assumptions. Am I boxing myself into a choice, that is a false choice? Are there other creative solutions to think through. Am I thinking too narrowly about the problem?
Variables. What else can I do to affect the outcome? Work harder? Talk to the client? Adjust the scope? Work on something else in the mean time? Ask for advice? Get extra resources?
Grow up. Don’t fold your arms, and stick out your lower lip. Grow up. Structure the problem, look the scary tiger in the mouth, and get to work. Good consulting is a simple formula: head, heart,and hands. Think about the problem deeply, come up with some options, do the research, model through it. Figure it out. Don’t whine.