Today 100 days ago, I did something I planned for about for 25 years. While I used to be a consultant, I always said: “When I grow up, I want to be a client!” On first of October 2021, this is what happened: I am a client now!
After 100 days, it is expected from politicians to have settled and already delivered first successes. That is why I reflected this weekend about the last months. And – so that you are not disappointed – I decided I will not write about any corner stones I have set. I will not celebrate any successes achieved in these days. As the first and biggest difference being on the client side is that 100 days do not matter. But here are some insights I would like to share.
Why The H… did I Want to Become a Client?
Obviously, the clients in my life as consultant had some desirable role for me. What did I miss? Clients were always right. They had the power to say and give direction. They seemingly had the better understanding of what is important. That is what I thought. Or to see it from the other side: I did not feel empowered to give directions. I did not feel empowered to discuss strategies. I always had the feeling that I have to do what they say, even if I do not like it.
It took me some time to understand, that most of this really was related to my bad self confidence. As consultant, especially as of senior level, my expectation was that I really had to shine in my business, and also understand my customer’s business enough to help anytime. Reality was, that I always only felt one step ahead. I had read one more book, two more articles, I definitely was able to talk about all kinds of testing… but I never felt knowledgeable.
What a rubbish.
From todays perspective, I know that I was a good consultant. Definitely good enough. And that it does not matter to be “ahead”, but that it does matter to take care of your client. And it does matter to work together.
My Consultancy Puberty
For some kids, puberty starts, when parents start being embarassing. As a parent, I think puberty starts, when the discussions with the kids start being interesting. So taking the image of consultants as a kid and the clients as grown-ups, I guess I started my puberty only a few years ago. Here is a big shout-out to my previous company (Skaylink) and there especially the SAP folks, who played the role of my road gang. They helped me understand a few things, some of them being:
- I finally understood, that I have a strong tendency for curiosity AND reliability – the former leading to my feeling that I always wanted to do something else, the latter leading me to do things I thought, were necessary. The two do not go together too well as I never had time to do fascinating stuff while working of stuff I promised to take care of.
- They were the first people (after more tan 25 years of working) who asked me to join them as I and my topics seemed to be interesting
- They understood that I still wanted to learn a lot, although being a senior senior…
So my road gang started giving me a lot of self confidence (and a lot of knowledge). Thanks a lot for both.
To round up my image: did my customer start to become embarassing? Well definitely not. It is just, that I understood, that my understanding of our relationship was stupid at times: there is no “top” or “bottom”, but only a “together”. Thanks to my last two customers, who helped me understand my value and how I can contribute value for them.
And Then I met my Fairy Tale Princess!?
Did I? Obviously I was ready to go the next step. Become adult. So when I got asked, I said YES. As the role to be filled sounded as if out of a fairy tale. A role with the opportunity to shape things. Together with others with a strong will to shape things. A job needing most of the knowledge I had collected the 30 years before. Too good to be true? I cannot tell after 100 days. But I can list a few things why I am happy to be grown-up now:
- Being part of the company and working together with everybody else in the company (at least very many of them) definitely feels right. I do prefer it over working with few colleagues at a clients site
- Being able to see the big picture and shape it gives me a bit of peace
- Working with kids, uhm consultants is fun, now being on the other side. I can request complete transparency, as I know, how at least some conultancy companies work. And I appreciate that the consultants I work with understand that we target a real 1+1>2 approach, being supported by diverse teams
- Knowing that there will even be more opportunities to grow and develop.
I know that there will be dark moments, maybe as things do not work fast enough. But I am adult enough to handle that now. But I also do enjoy having kids (consultants) around me. My current company calls them (the consultants) the lubricating oil in the gearbox. For me, it makes me feel young, to be with the kids 🙂
Coming Back to those 100 Days
Those 100 days. Do they matter? I guess I could describe now, what I achieved already. But then I would also fall into the trap of saying, what I have not yet achieved. And this is not that important anymore, as I have time. Obviously it still matters to have goals and ideas, how to reach them. But it feels great not to be alone on this journey. And it feels great to be part of a big family, called a company. Now working on the client’s side makes it so much easier to identify with the company. So I wonder, if I will make the next 100 month here… then I can tell you about my accomplishments at my retirement party…