I was having a coffee with an old friend the other day. We plopped ourselves down in a couple of overstuffed chairs at one of the local Starbucks to chat and it became apparent in a couple of seconds that the sun was streaming right into her eyes.
I mentioned that fact and asked if she wanted us to relocate. She sat forward and said “no, if I sit like this it’s not an issue.” It wasn’t, but since I had no desire to watch her contort herself nor to see her back go out from sitting in an awkward position, I suggested she do something to remedy the situation: turn the chair.
That, in three words, is pretty much what I do. I help clients to come up with solutions that might not be obvious to them in the moment but which are readily apparent to someone who isn’t caught up in the problem. Questioning the underlying assumption and changing the paradigm is what many businesspeople fail to do on their own (and what just as many of us do in the “real” world outside of business as well!). It gets back to the “what if” conversation we explored here a little while ago.
My friend could have sat sideways and waited for the sun to move so it was out of her eyes. That would have distracted her from our chat at best and left her with a sore back or half blind at worst. In a sense, it would have been the equivalent of blaming a business failure on a bad marketplace. When the market turns – when the sun moves – things will be fine. I don’t think any business really has the luxury of that sort of thinking and turning the business’ figurative chair is how the enterprise can carry on despite unfavorable circumstances.
I’ve been told that consultants are a luxury in good times and unaffordable in bad times. As you might expect, I disagree. We’re the folks keeping the sun out of your eyes and the sun is always shining in business. While we might know a lot about your business (in fact, we need to!), we’re not caught up in the day-to-day, in the politics, or the latest office drama. We have a different perspective. Not better – different, and sometimes, that’s all that’s needed to move forward.
That’s my take – what’s yours?