Thursday, September 16, 2010

What I've learned about consulting (so far)

I've been a business consultant for a software vendor for just over two years now. Turns out there are some things worth knowing..

Remember people's names. Not just those you deal with directly - that's a given. But also those you come across when you're workshopping or conducting training. It gives them a pleasant surprise to realise you paid enough attention to know who they are.

People will always want to fix the problem. They'll probably already have a solution in their head. Don't let this distract you from defining the problem properly first. Sometimes the thing that's causing the problem won't be fixed by their proposed solution.

Provide good advice, but understand that they might not take it. Be ready to walk away from what you think would be best. If you can't do this, don't be a consultant.

Have fun and work with good people. You don't have to be best friends, but why waste time and energy surrounding yourself with people who don't click?

I'm sure I'll think of more - any additions?

Monday, September 6, 2010

You had shoes? Luxury!!

Quake after effects in Kaiapoi
On the weekend Christchurch was pretty devastated by a 7.1 earthquake and a massive number of aftershocks (sidenote: good graphic here of the aftershocks)

Interesting reading the responses to this blog post which questions whether uninsured people should get aid from the government or other funds. There's plenty of discussion from a range of positions about the potential response. They range from 'they should have had insurance, too bad for them' to 'help them out, it's too big an event to quibble about what they should have done'.

I appreciate the point that people can't just not get insurance and expect the government to bail them out when disaster strikes, but I couldn't countenance just letting people cope.

Here's the thing though - on the blog post there was a fairly strong trend towards 'help them get back on their feet, but don't pay for luxuries like a flat-screen tv'. Another comment suggested that 'broadband and Sky' were things that shouldn't be paid for via government assistance.

It just makes me wonder, what's a basic need, and what's a luxury? I agree that people could live without Sky - but broadband? If you've got kids who 'need' the internet for their homework, surely dialup is cruel and unusual punishment? And maybe they don't need Sky, but most houses in NZ have tvs for at least the free to air channels - is that a luxury?

We have insurance (although I'm thinking we should check if we have enough) but I wonder, if it came down to it, what we would *need*, as opposed to things that simply make life that bit simpler.

(Picture from - Kaiapoi after the Canterbury earthquake)