January 3, 2012

Adventure's in KM Consulting: Cassandra's Curse

OR, "Why I Need A Pimp"

Oh, sweet blog. How I have missed thee. Would that my time this past year been spent committing words of wisdom into your digital care rather than wasted on advising the unappreciative...otherwise known as my clients and prospects.

I'm not sure if anyone said that consulting is easy but if they did then I have a wad of spit ready for airmail. Despite my growing acceptance of my own brilliance with regards to KM (yes, I'm generous to a fault) it's time that I accept the unavoidable truth that I need a pimp.

And not just someone who will hunt down clients and trick me out on back to back KM gigs, but someone who will occassionally smack me around when I get all noble about KM and feel the need to argue with clients about affecting true change. I mean, if it's clear that they are challenging you because they want the lie, ahem, the version of the truth they're paying for who am I to point out elephants in the room and try to speak truth to power. A good pimp would remind me that they are paying for a fantasy and...SMACK...give it to 'em ho!

So does it make me a good consultant that I can carve up organizational challenges and deliver scintillating strategies for KM sucess or a trrbl consultant (no vowels equals "really, really bad") because I believe in what I do and hate to compromise my values...SMACK...uh, because I won't just play my damn role and feed the fantasy?

The Knowledge Manager in me says "you go boy!" but my bank account is calling for a smack down and screaming at me to "get with the script ho!"

I mean, so what if I'd foreseen the downfall of Circuit City back in '05 (take a note CompUSA, Best Buy, and Fry's - your customers can do all of their own research and get better prices online - your big differentiation needs to be providing a phenomenal, multi-sensory customer experience! Think Sega Video arcades in the '80's and Sharper Image/Brookstones in the '90s before they both got cheap and tacky - take it to the next level!) or if I could've advised Blockbuster and Borders that what did them in isn't the rise of the digital marketplace but their slack ass (read: non-existant) efforts to re-brand their businesses as interactive community hotspots where people come to get connected; digital is a format, not a way of life and retailers like these simply needed to change how they engaged their customers and delivered their products in order to remain viable and thrive. I mean, really Blockbuster, you let Redbox beat you out?!?! I can hear Gomer now, "shameful, shameful, shameful.")? Does it really matter how great I think I am if I can't get my customers and prospects on board with making the changes necessary to ensure success of their KM efforts?

I guess that answers my question: great at KM, trrbl at consulting.

Anywho, while I take a little time away from stressing to blog (aka bitch and moan) and re-consider Pharmacy school (because Pharmacist's don't have these issues...or any issues for that matter...I think...maybe...and I could work part-time in retirement without further stressing my poor broken heart) I can't help but think about my patron Greek prophetess, Cassandra.

Cassandra was a princess of Troy and sister of Paris - the dude who got his family caught up in that infamous war when he went HAM over another man's wife. According to mythology, Cassandra was a hottie in her own right and the Greek God Apollo had a thing for her. In his attempts to woo her he taught her the art of prophesy but she wasn't feelin' him and refused to give up the goodies. Sidebar: this chick must have been off the chain to turn down a god who skipped flowers, candy and Hallmark cards and was throwin' around gifts like "foretell the future" but I'm not hatin'! And you never know, he could've had halitosis from hell (or Tartarus). Anyway, since apparently there's a no return policy on the gift of prophesy, Apollo gave Cassandra a "screw you" parting gift which robbed her prophecy of the power to persuade. So, essentially, she could predict the future but nobody believed her.

I'm not quite sure when I first read about Cassandra just that it was a long time ago (and I'm kinda old so that means it was like, in the 90's or something) but I've always been partial to her because even in high school I was pretty good at reading people and situations, understanding patterns of behavior, predicting outcomes and strategizing (although I probably should have waited see Dangerous Liasions before engaging in an eerily similar scheme which was a complete disaster, but you live, you learn). Even though people didn't disbelieve what I had to say they usually disregarded my advice and more than once became angry with me when my "propecies" came to pass, as if I made it happen by speaking it into existence. Of course, they never stayed angry for long because within a day or two (you know how high school is) they were seeking out my advice again.

I've been learning over the last year that consulting is pretty much the same game, except a lot of people pay you to tell them what they want to hear, not what they need to hear and the ones who claim to want the good, the bad, and the ugly only seem interested in truly wanting your help after they've failed miserably to do the very thing you advised against (and backed themselves into a corner). I used to wonder why Cassandra didn't just throw up a big, fat "dueces" and hop on the first boat out of Troy but now I'm wondering if her loyalty to family and country was as strong as my passion for KM and to affecting true change (however hokey it might sound).

Aaaaaaand writing that, I see just how lame that sounds.

While it's true that I love what I do and enjoy seeing my strategies bear fruit, I guess I struggle with coming to come to terms with the fact that no matter how amazingly prophetic and insightful (I believe) my vision/advice is, how well clients heed my counsel and apply my proposed strategies is really up to them. Ultimately, you can only take responsibility for what you've been engaged to do - provide the best consulting experience possible, then move on to the next opportunity.

Hmph, maybe having that clarity will make my adventures in consulting more of a joy and less of a headache over the next year. Let's hope, because I can't afford a pimp AND a drug dealer right now.

Happy New Year everyone!!