Category Archives: Team

Career tip: What is an informational interview?

Of the many things I learned in MBA, the “informational interview” is one of those gems that remains relevant a decade later. Information interviews. They are simply low-expectation, business meetings with (relative) strangers to find out more about an industry, company, or opportunity. It is a win-win: The interviewee has the opportunity to be generous – with their… Read More »

World’s worst question: “Are you sure?”

This is my least favorite expression in all of consulting. “Are you sure?” Built into the question is a lack of trust, glibness, superficial concern with accuracy over meaning, and honestly, a bit of disdain. It’s a superficial question. It’s the kind of question that is asked out of (bad) habit and does nothing to really add… Read More »

Without trust, a diversity of opinion is an argument

I was on a strange call recently. The call lacked an agenda (bad sign), involved too many people (bad sign), and was a round-robin style of updating (bad sign). The leaders of the call were frittering at the edges, a bit nervous, fearful and entirely bureaucratic. Disorienting because I don’t know if the angst came from anger, jealousy,… Read More »

Consulting is tribal; pick a tribe

Consulting is tribal.  Each of the partners (chieftains) typically have a group of “go-to” principals, senior managers, and network of consultants (tribe) who work on their projects. For even the unobservant person, these tribes become clear: He is one of “Dave’s telecom guys” Sue only works for Jim; she is “on deck” for senior manager this year Jennifer… Read More »

Consulting: Idea fight club

I coined this phrase on my last project.  This is the simple admission that consultants should be confident in their ideas – backed up by data, research, and thinking – and be willing to allow their ideas to stand the testing of their peers, managers and clients. Ideas get stronger the more the are tested.… Read More »

Some rough manager days

I have not blogged in a month because of international travel, 3 concurrent projects, and honestly, some of the toughest manager days I have ever had.  Got some new folks, a fairly ambiguous project, and a lack of thinking.  Sad, but true.  A lack of real thinking. Here is an unfiltered list of the #%^# I said… Read More »

Don’t over-manage your career; get on the rocket ship

Career. Some people over-manage their careers – thinking too much about the role they play, how they will position themselves for promotion, and what they deserve to be doing on the team.  My wife rightly says I don’t think about this enough, but honestly, some people think about it way too much. Do good work.  If… Read More »

Consulting is an apprenticeship

Management consulting uses an apprenticeship model where the master coaches the apprentice on the skills and methods of the craft.  Same is true in law, accounting, other professional services.  Yes, I am sure that many consulting skills can be taught in books, through courses, or perhaps through trial-and-error.  I would argue that the real learning happens in-person,… Read More »

Direction, leadership, and trust

Tonight I told a client that I believe there are really only 3 things that distinguish high-performing organizations from losers.  Direction, leadership, and trust. Direction: Too many companies do not know what they are trying to achieve. They rest on their laurels from previous hit products. They acquire new companies. They mimic competitors. They optimize… Read More »

Managers are the glue, be greedy for more work

I gave this advice to a newbie manager this week. The manager kept acting like an individual contributor, as if that was enough to succeed. He kept saying, “well, I do this” and “I do that”. Wrong point of view. No sense of managerial duties. Managers are the glue. Good managers give the consulting firm leverage and profitability… Read More »

Consulting advice: be likable, be yourself

Being likable is a characteristic of all successful consultants.  The more people “like” you, the more likely they will listen, interact, and be persuaded.  This is not a controversial point, or a deep one.  Be likable, and your life will be easier. Don’t be fake.  This does not mean that you have to be a schmoozer, or a sycophant. As someone who started… Read More »

6 problems with teams

Teams are not always great. I recently wrote about how consulting is a team sport, but I also wanted to share some caveats. It’s not always rainbows and cute ponies. #1: Working with new people: In consulting, you work with smart and diverse people, but they are not always the same people.  Large consultancies staff their… Read More »

Consulting is a team sport

Consulting is a team sport. One of the best things about consulting – and project work more generally – is that it’s a team sport. There is a goal. People have different roles. You don’t have to be good at everything, but you do need the right people on your team. There is an art to… Read More »