So, if you read How To Become A Consultant, then you’ll already be a value creation catalyst, helping management leverage their value creation processes in order to catalyse growth, and frankly, you’ll be making a mint. But hang on there, young protege, you’re not ready yet.
What happens when you’re consulting on something you know absolutely nothing about? How do you not only get through it, but get through it without anybody knowing that you don’t have a clue? It’s time to learn how to bluff, and how to bluff convincingly.
This happened to me once, when a consultant came to ‘consult’ on the creation of a new website. It was a sight to behold, a man so clearly out of his depth, yet so brilliantly remunerated that this out-of-depthness was but a mere detail. He could get away with anything. It was like a panda walking into the monkey enclosure at a zoo and saying:
“right, Monkeys, today we’re going to learn about bananas.”
“but you know fuck all about bananas. You’re a panda.”
“yes, but do you know how to leverage banana peeling processes for maximum value creation catalysation?”
“no, we just eat them. Now piss off, Panda.”
“then you’re getting it wrong – show me how you peel the banana”
“well…. we peel it like this.”
“Great – now let’s document this and four-box it immediately!”
What can we learn from this flippant, made-up exchange between imaginary pandas and monkeys? First of all, it’s confidence – never, ever make it look as if you are clueless. Yes, we all know that you are, but you must always have a come-back at the ready whenever you are challenged. For example, if you are discussing websites with people who know about websites – and you know nothing – turn it to your advantage. Confused by HTML? “Let’s four-box it”, you shout – a process designed to waste everyone’s time by putting words into a ‘quadrant’ for ten minutes while your tiny mind catches up with everyone else.
Secondly, it’s the act of taking everything you hear, and presenting it back as if it’s new. Peeling bananas? Yes, let’s document that, four-box it and throw it back at the unsuspecting audience. It’s a process (everything is a process, don’t you know) – so you start with pre-peeling, and banana peeling optimisation processes. You don’t “unpeel the banana”, you “add value to it”, transforming it from inedible to edible.
What happened in this meeting was copybook consultant – we presented an idea to the consultant, and an hour later, he was presenting it back to us in management-speak. The words “the slogan goes here and the ‘contact us button’ goes here” were transformed into “So this is the leveragisation of the value creation message, catalysed by user-intent and here is the interaction-point between user and call to action.”
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