Branding the Consultant: what can I do versus where can I add the most value?

Engaging new and potentially challenging clients can always be daunting, particularly when an expectation has been set as to what role you will play as a part of a team. Whether consulting and road-mapping potential outcomes and future work, to delivering a full project. In my time working with Kloud, the broader sense of the term ‘consultant’ appears to be at an all-time high in terms of what it means to the professional marketplace. I view today’s Business Consultant as someone who guides an individual stakeholder or group, based on engaging and understanding given circumstances or a proposed business case, to help make decisions on adopting a specific direction – one which is considered the most appropriate or in their best interest.

The client, as we know them, usually comes with high expectations (surely, as they are paying good money for quality service), but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they know what they want right now. Solutions and recommended approaches aren’t always black and white and neither should be the decisions on whether to approach them or not i.e. providing a solution in the present versus future proofing based on projections of desirable future business outcomes.

So, before pulling the panic cord and calling for the chopper to extract you from a project where delivery may be stalling or responsibilities and requirements changing from one day to the next, perhaps narrow the window and focus on the objectives immediately in front of you. When targeting these immediate objectives look at which ones align with your strengths, not only in skills but also in your unique personality. Ask yourself– ‘What aspects of my skills and ability to provide the best services and outcomes for my clients allows for them, as well as my peers, to identify my own, unique brand?’

Business Case Example

A medium-sized business had already taken steps to progress out of it’s technological infancy, by purchasing the necessary software and scoping infrastructure requirements for where it intended it’s future state to be. However, with a limited business case from key stakeholders, time and resources available for business discovery exercises, and ability for IT to meet the support demands of the business, a series of challenges looked to stifle the enabling of these software and infrastructure solutions. From a technical standpoint, the IT staff where highly capable, but required analytical and consulting capability to aid the transition.

However, the CIO remained adamant on the direction he desired the company to head in, and so in engaging with external consultants and allowing an almost agile-like engagement with the various business departments, was able to focus on the larger picture of developing their internal IT as a technological innovation body, as well as a support function, while having the staff engage collaboratively in the transition to the new technological state. The engagement with consultants who had to act flexibly due to the lack of time and business case development allowed for a situation where they were, in turn, able to challenge themselves, drawing on past experience, apply skills outside of their portfolio and self-educate on the solution(s), to deliver the desired outcomes for the project. The end result was inciting positive attitudes towards, and a broadened understanding of IT as well as the community-building effects that these modern technologies could have on the business.
While this specific situation might be nothing new to some consultants out there, the value in strengthening your brand through outcomes that flow into positive effects for a client’s company is something that is not always achieved, but should be a key focus, particularly when offering guidance and advising on a solution.

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Personality Attributes of a Technical Consultant (Ref. ILoveOracle.com)

Applying the most valuable aspects of your skill set to the appropriate situation has the potential to not only yield bigger wins for your project, but also show the client a level of capability and control that allows for an investment of trust, something that in the long-term, is an invaluable intangible between consultant, client, the team (Kloud) and your (Kloudie) unique brand of consulting.

Be sure that, in empowering and promoting your own brand, you don’t forget about the team. Part of your strength and value can be your resourcefulness, not just your individual skill. In a present technological landscape endorsing constant collaboration, there’s no harm in not knowing what you don’t know – just be willing to ask and learn. Know that giving time to self-evaluation and development translates to value added in the long-term, at least in from my experience.

Psychodynamics: Are We Smarter Than The Device?

PhonePeople

How did you know about this blog post?

It’s likely that you were notified by your smartphone or device, the notification itself as a part of trundle that you’re figuratively swiping left in-between email reminders about upcoming events and direct messages from your favourite social media. Or you were trawling your usual network feeds for updates to catch your attention.

Now if you were to time the window in which you check your smart device again for notifications, new messages or general updates, I’d bet that this window would be within a minute or just outside of it, and would require no prompting whatsoever… much like, say, breathing?

On the way to lunch this past week I had to tell three pedestrians to “Look up!” because they were walking on their smartphones while walking through the mess of the CBD at lunch time and just asking for some bad luck to go down. One was even across the intersection while the walk sign was red! Roadworks or not. However these smart device distractions amongst societal situations where we should become actively engaged, are becoming less distractive and more the norm.

Admittedly, I’ve been guilty of this also (stands up in anonymous meeting group circle) “Hi everyone, it’s been 24 days, 4 hours and 19 minutes since my last smart device infringement…”

Separating norms, habits and addictions have become difficult in this regard. A study conducted last year on 205 users, ranging from ages 16 to about 64, and spanning across the UK, China, Australia and the US, drew a preliminary conclusion that people grow emotionally attached to their smartphones. Obviously, a lost or stolen phone can be replaced, and even more conveniently, the data backup restored to the replacement. However the same cannot be said for a lost pet dog for instance.

The study in fact suggests that the emotional connection comes from is the connectivity and community the device facilitates – what we’re actually sacrificing for behavioural controls is the luxury of functionality.

It is with the ease of which these devices can be used, the ability to pour one’s life into apps and social networks, customise and personalise options, is what creates the need for us to be close to it, the loss of it coming with the emotional baggage of disconnection and an inability to “interact substantially”.

Do we know what life was like before this? I would say kind of, but maybe in another ten years’ time, not so much. Sure, we still have to get off our butts for some of our daily activities, but as we move, so does our devices, both figuratively and literally.

We’re well and truly plugged in; it’s the world we live in now. I can get my plumbing fixed and a slice of cake brought to my doorstep by a complete stranger on a single app (and trust that it will happen). Why not?

For further reading on the study, see the article under Computers in Human Behaviour.