Friday, December 10, 2010

The Real Adventure Begins

Well, I finally did it!

I started my own management consulting practice. It sounds like a bigger deal than it is, really. But being a free agent surely has its advantages. And I just LOVE that title, president…

Starting an S-corp is not the hassle it used to be. You can incorporate, get a domain with a website, get your EIN, open a corporate account, and pay your taxes, all without getting dressed. You still have to mail in your articles of incorporation and fax in your form 2553, though. Poo…

So the next challenge is creating a pipeline of work. As I have written before, The Network Is Your Career, and no more so than when you are your own product.

Here is where your reputation and the connections you have nurtured over the years make all the difference. In keeping with the season, if you have been naughty and driven a hard bargain, you may end up with lumps of coal for projects. If you have been nice however, and played fair, were reliable and kept your clients’ interest at heart, you are welcomed back wherever you go. In today’s hyper-connected world, it’s easy to spread the word. But there still is great value in contacting old friends and colleagues and explaining to them what your focus is. They may not be prospects, now or ever. But they talk to people that may need your help. And the better your network knows what value you can bring, the more leads you get.

Coming out of a nasty recession, it appears many companies are realizing that business as usual no longer cuts it. But they are grappling with formulating a vision of what “better” would look like. What makes improving even harder is that executives and directors have not woken up to the notion that nothing will change unless they start measuring their reports differently. A Program of Change is for staff, not the corner office.

Per the Gartner Group Hype Cycle, Agile is stuck in the Trough Of Disillusionment, and rightfully so. Agile was hijacked by faddists and me-too companies, just like SOA was, and subverted into another prescriptive, waste-prone process. Many people have not had a chance to witness the power of simplicity and transparency agile approaches bring. Pilot projects were started, agile and scrum coaches were brought in and things started feeling differently. But when the coaches left and the pilot projects were delivered, somehow everything went back to the way it was. The root cause is that people went through the motions of agile practices, but did not internalize its philosophy nor change their behavior. They can’t because the way their performance is measured hasn’t changed.

That’s why I decided to focus on Executive Agile Transformation, or EAT. EAT your own dog-food. You are what you EAT. Whoa, I better go trademark that…

All kidding aside, programs of change do not stand a chance unless a company changes the way it measures business contribution, from the top down. Yes, executives are a tough bunch to change. But they can do it and when they do, miracles happen. And not only at Christmas.

My biggest challenge will be to get executives to admit they have a problem. Here is where we will take guidance from psychology and apply practices from Cognitive Therapy.

And so the adventure begins…

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