What I'm doing right now is consulting. I never cared much for consultants. They seemed to be so much like perpetual sales machines that add little to no value other than to facilitate discussions and tell you to do things you've already thought to do...and in the process find something else you already know you should be doing and tell you to do that so that they might sell you more work.
But what I discovered over the last couple of years is summed up below in a few meta-level points:
- First, consulting doesn't have to be this way (read: icky). Some of us genuinely really, really like helping people and businesses with awesome ideas become amazing dreams-come-true. I'm one of those people! I really love talking to people with business ideas, businesses with great customer experiences/propositions, and companies with such promise who are just looking for another perspective, a little bit of help, some reassurance and a strategy to really blow this thing out of the water. It's energizing. It's fulfilling. And I like to think that I'm doing a little good in the world, even if it's not curing cancer.
- I have a crazy array of experiences. With my education (operations research, engineering, business, foreign language, logistics...with masters degrees a-go-go), the world-class companies who have taken me onto their teams, given me awesome challenges and mega support, and allowed me to learn and contribute, and my ability to think in systems and feedbacks and prioritization and ways of failing gracefully, I have a set of 'stuff' in my brain that isn't normally found in one person.
- Operations is not the area where super smart people stay or where super smart people tend to be valued. I think this comes from the fact that for those 'outside' of operations, it seems dirty, unglamorous, and mostly devoid of any real kind of strategic advantage or meaty intellectual problems. It is the area you can 'fake it until you make it' to get through a start up, etc. Anyone can pick things off of a shelf and put them into a box, right? Because of this, it's under-valued at most companies...until it's a problem. And then it's a real problem. But even an OK solution is just fine...only a select few really understand how elegant, smart operations can really change your business. I have been extremely fortunate to work at companies where this is the case. But it's hard to find great software to optimize your supply chain that has great world-class know-how in it. It's tough to find highly functioning operations teams where they are great people leaders and great analysts - what I truly believe it takes to have a world-class operation.
Learning these things, I got the bug to:
- HELP: for those companies who are in a tight spot where strategy, end-to-end consistency of vision/execution, org structure, processes, operations, supply chain, logistics, or any number of other things need to come together, I want to be there. I love it. I really can help. And everyone wins.
- CONTRIBUTE: I'm going to try to start writing more. I would like to do workshops and teach. I would like to write something someday. (Oh boy, I'm going to be another one of those people with 'write a book' on my bucket list.)
- LEARN MORE: the more I get exposed to different companies, different challenges, different business models, different people, and different products/industries, the more I can learn, which helps me HELP and CONTRIBUTE even more. And it's really personally gratifying.
So, welcome to my journey. I'm sure it will be ugly and messy...but also speckled with a few keen insights here and there...