It came as a bit of a shock. It was my friend and colleague in business, John Caswell, who mentioned it. “People like to snack on things these days and that includes you Mr Rushman!” — Really?
OK, I know what he means.
The discussion centred on reputation. If you have one it’s hard to alter. Mine has often been for large and complex projects — so the assumption is that engaging with me costs big bucks. This struck a chord with me and explains a lot of things.
These days, the world has atomised. Large projects are being broken up, and the economic model has meant that smaller and more discrete teams are assembled to do a multiplicity of things. Also, the advisory and consulting side of life is starting to become more intimate and valuable.
People with genuine experience are finding ways to be included for their insight. Rather than large teams of average people simply thrown at the problem at a huge cost.
Technology has made this a reality, and people can see how systems and collaborations of this nature can really work. Simply put, senior executives just want to run things through with someone who’s been there before. Or sometimes talk while walking or over lunch. To clarify thinking and open the mind.
A Shift In Mindset And so it was — people just don’t know that as well as doing deals and running Rushmans — I also do this. I don’t care what it gets called (coaching, mentoring — therapy!), but it’s highly rewarding for me and my clients. They get years of insight, and I get to sit with fine people who just want to discuss a complex or thorny issue.
I often do one-off small assignments.
But clients expect and get confidentiality. So, no one knows. And I never thought it was a big thing. Until talking with John, I realised that, actually, this work is far more valuable and meaningful than doing one more massive project/event!
All of this was a great insight for me. I hadn’t looked at it quite in this way. We have always had the ethic in our engagements of a particular monolithic business model and way of working. We worked only on medium to long-term projects and contacts.
It was never by individual value to senior teams or through retainers. The world has also changed — increasingly, people want experience and expertise alongside Critical Thinking and Clarity — and they want it on tap, in bite-size amounts.
This work sometimes leads to bigger things, Structured Visual Thinking sessions and programmes of work involving my colleague John. But often, it’s just a different perspective that’s required, an introduction to a new way of thinking, a different mindset and an added dimension to the usual stuff.
How It Plays Out
It’s incredible how getting out of the office and doing things without formality can improve the level of conversation. There’s no PowerPoint deck or pressure from the boardroom furniture and construct to insidiously inform how things should go. We’ve immediately shifted the energy.
By listening carefully in a more relaxed place and space, it’s amazing how fast we get to the heart of the matter. It always surprises each of us how much more value results from that simple act.
We get to clarity on the issues or opportunities fast. From that, we can frame a way forward to work out and agree on what works. This delivers because we can get to the brutal truths without any worry and that gets us to identify really practical solutions to make things happen. Sometimes, this can happen quickly. I guess that’s the advantage of experience.
A Privilege & Quite Some Heritage
Over 20 companies started and run. Too many deals to count large and small. Over the course of 35 years I am still learning every day.
The hardest work I do is keeping myself current. If I want to stay relevant, I have to be relevant. I watch an awful lot of people fail at that. I guess the clue is in the ‘hard’ bit. It is absolutely essential to scan all the dimensions — we all need to have both a current and a futurist point of view. If you haven’t kept up with what’s happening now , you are probably not the right person to be thinking for others about their future.
Much of what I do is for my networks spread out around the world. Many of them are so successful and have worked so hard that they haven’t had time to consider how the rapid advances in this new ‘knowledge age’ may affect them going forward. Although it’s becoming a bit of a cliche, it’s still true that I’m helping people avoid their own ‘Kodak Moment’.
You can create the conditions for serendipity — isn’t it spectacular when something really valuable comes up completely out of the blue?
So, if it’s just a sense check on a proposition, or becoming clear/removing complexity on something, shaking up the thinking in a meeting or working out how to make things happen — consider me a healthy snack!
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