The American philosopher Thomas Nagel ends his short book “Mind and Cosmos” with these words:
“The empirical evidence can be interpreted to accommodate different comprehensive theories, but in this case the cost in conceptual and probabilistic contortions is prohibitive. I would be willing to bet that the present right-thinking consensus will come to seem laughable in a generation or two – though of course it may be replaced by a new consensus that is just as invalid. The human will to believe is inexhaustible.”
This is a piece about consultancy and the ethics of consultants in one specific area.
I was in one of my client offices the other day, sitting at my desk ploughing through some work, developing a thought piece for the client. Next to me were a couple of people I do not know, who were engaged in a little light banter. They were talking about the company, the work they were doing, and how things were going – but nothing too deep or serious, just chit-chat. At one point one of the people said “of course, no one here knows I am not an employee.”
Does anyone care about job titles? I think the answer should be no, but it seems to me that lots of people still worry about their job title. Yet pretty much any job title is increasingly meaningless outside of a very specific context.
As a consultant I have worked in a lot of organizations. Those organizations have varied in terms of culture, location, scale and sector. During my time in all these organizations there is one phrase which I hear most often. I suspect it is one that every other consultant, business advisor or contractor hears. And that phrase is “we are different”.
One of the things we all spend a lot of time in business doing is reviewing other people’s documents. They may be text documents or slide decks. We can spend huge amounts of time trying to get our head around what the writer(s) meant. Sometimes, for example in responding to a tender, really understanding the document is critical to ongoing success.
I am often asked what makes a great project manager. Like any question of this sort the asker is looking for some simple mantra that is universally true. Life’s a bit more complex than that, but I can give an indication. I think there are five personal characteristics that are fundamental to any delivery role:
I have worked in over 10 different quite varied countries in Europe, Asia, North America and Australasia. I have travelled in many more. I have friends all over the world. I am also a change management professional. Bring all this together and I tend to think I am fairly aware of cultural sensitivities in different environments.
I go through fads of reading lots of blogs and then ignoring them for a while. At one level I think the short style of a blog encourages precise thinking - it’s hard to write something value adding in a very few words.
My bag was mislaid on a flight to El Calafate, Argentina. Unfortunately so was my wife’s. We have lost luggage before, so we tend to carry essentials in hand luggage and pack half and half in each hold bag so we at least each have some stuff. We had not thought of losing both bags.
Waiting at the luggage carousel in late 1999 in Kathmandu, two bags quickly arrived. The third, with all of my son’s stuff in it, never did. Finding ourselves in Kathmandu for 36 hours, with a 12 year old with no clean clothes when about to fly on to Paro in Bhutan was a bit of a problem.
About 18 months ago I was routed on a flight via Rome. This was slightly bizarre and quite irritating as there was then an 8 hour wait for my connecting flight. It wasn’t a cheap flight, but I looked for a positive solution. No matter I thought. I will take the opportunity to go into Rome for a few hours, have lunch and then come back for my flight. It seemed a great plan.
Farewell to the ‘m’ and the ‘e’. I have succumbed to the pressures of globalisation and adopted the American spelling of program as in program manager, program director and so on.
Welcome to the blog page of Changing Hats. I will write my various musings in this blog. I can’t promise there will be any consistent theme other than ideas that have gone through my head at some point.