Do you find hard to explain what you do for a living? To your mum? to your dad? To Harry Potter’s fans?
How many of us have encountered this question. “What do you do in life?” and feel “Well…”
Our work has become more difficult to explain. Especially since the rise of computers, networks, Artificial Intelligence, Google, startups, and all the hype around.
Sometimes I hear phrases and words like “you work with data” , “you work with computers”, “software”, “IT” or “consulting”.
While all of those are partly true, they hardly show a full picture.
I have my own view on why this question is difficult to answer.
My job is about complexity. About untangling and handling complexity.
And working with complexity is difficult to explain. As much as simplifying complexity.
In practice, the work I do requires working across many different dimensions: Strategy, operating model, geographies, business processes, people, IT and so on. It is about putting all those pieces together. For a purpose.
Perhaps, it would help if I tell some examples
One recent story was within a large firm in manufacturing. I helped rationalize its business operations – Marketing, sales, customer service, and service delivery. Then we deployed the new processes to more than 50 countries.
In another case, I designed the change management and business readiness approach for the rollout of a new CRM process framework globally, supported by Salesforce.
You know complex endeavours when you see one.
So, how do we work with something so wide?
A good start is to determine what is wrong. What is the problem we want to solve? Why?
Unfortunately, the formulation may come vague to us: “We want to do this…”. Why? What is the reason? Why is it important to you? And we quickly understand that the stated problem may not be the actual problem.
We must break it down, consider many parameters, go to a lower level of granularity, and deep dive further to identify both challenges and root causes.
In many cases, the sources of inefficiency lie in the existence of organizational siloes, disconnected processes, lack of collaboration, quality of data, or the level of manual work, copy / paste, and other workarounds. All those are extremely costly for an organization when we think about it.
My work is about understanding.
Every day I combine those observations and experience to identity the best way forward. I make recommendations. I make them based on the knowledge of the implications and likely outcomes.
We get here the sparks flying. It is another story to turn them into fire.
This is the next step: Take action.
Implementing the changes is not straightforward. It requires a good organization, a structured approach, good collaboration within the team and the partners, precision, and flexibility.
But we – consultants – are not defenceless. After a good number of projects, years of experience working across cultures, industries, and technologies, we often have developed the basis required for securing those exercises: The right behaviour, a bit of curiosity, some reactivity and flexibility, skills, and some tools.
I believe I have come a long way since I started consulting a few decades ago. With a few good successes, really nice failures, and a lot of lessons learned.
Why am I doing it?
That is what I like. The intellectual challenge. I like to find solutions for real life issues. And genuinely help people, work with people of various horizons, be in engaging environments.
This is rewarding.