What do you have in mind when you hear management consultant?
Rather the positive associations: well-trained, highly committed, temporary colleagues who help solving problems with a high level of methodological expertise or rather the negative: unsympathetic, overpaid busybodies with elbow mentality who know it all?
We honestly admit: We have the second one in mind, when we hear consultant.
For this reason, to us, the term triggers a genuine feeling of discomfort. Because if we take a close look at our profession and believe the definition of the know-it-all source Wikipedia - that's exactly what we are:
"Management consultants provide consulting as a service to other businesses. Often case the clients management is the subject of the consulting, then it is called management consulting."
Management consultant. Even better.
Sitting together with a few mates and a few strangers over a glass of wine on a cozy summer evening and the conversation turns to the job. After initial sympathy, shared hobbies and travel destinations, many of us flinch. Because between voluntary child therapists, doctors without borders and inspiring social workers, the moment when we introduce ourselves as management consultants often results in a moment of awkwardness. Followed by our diminished, justifying attitude, which is supposed to explain "but we are different".
But are we actually different? Don't we also fall into the cliché again and again?
We too, catch ourselves, hiring dedicated time slots for a call with our parents or challenging a friends job application again. Even the shopping list gets a quality check. During a conversation, we often realize how stupid that sounds. It can't go on like this. It's time for a change - visually, behaviorally and professionally, because no one likes clichéd management consultants. But that's not it: the name has to go as well!?
Easier said than done. Because that would plunge us straight into the next crisis of meaning:
What are we actually at 55BirchStreet?
As diverse as our projects and clients are, so are the requirements for our respective roles. "Picking up our clients where they are" is one of our guardrails, but that can bring very different requirements to an assignment:
Sometimes we start as listeners to find out where the pain point actually is.
Sometimes we dig like mole, directly through the chaos, documents and numbers and structure like world champions.
Sometimes we act as de-escalating fire extinguishers and create the space to put the problems and misunderstandings on the table in a moderated manner.
Sometimes all together.
The list is a bottomless barrel. So, as usual with complex questions, we fired up the swarm intelligence mode and asked ourselves the question at our strategic team workshop #Route55 two weeks ago.
The first exciting insight: every one of us has their own, sometimes very different association in mind but we all have a common ground of where we find ourselves and where not. An excerpt from our brainstorming:
We recognize ourselves: versatility, enabler, responsibility, high motivation, flexible, external view, independent, helper , solution-oriented, attractive entry-level job, on the road a lot
We don’t recognize ourselves: business class with trolley suitcase, stiff, burnout, competitive, busybody, sell ourselves dearly at the expense of others, dominant, 24/7, up or out, hot air, male dominated.
You will soon find the result of our ideas here on our blog. One thing in advance: We have not yet found the perfect term. Nevertheless, after our exchange we agree that we want to tackle at least two issues:
We want to break old patterns and always question the existing.
As Maya Angelou put it into words so beautifully: “If you don't like it, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.”
We want the negative associations, that are sometimes associated with the term fade out step by step and let the positive one’s shine. Through our manner, our behavior and by giving you regular insights into what makes us tick.
We want to avoid the C-word when describing ourselves as the 55BirchStreet team. But old patterns are persistent. So, if it does slip out, we put €0.55 into the “piggy bank”. As soon as it overflows, we will donate the money. Will you help us?
What do you think, is it exaggerated and are we the only ones struggling with these terms?
When some time has passed and our efforts possibly bear fruits, we will ask again and are looking forward to the results: "What do you have in mind when you hear management consultants?"
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