It’s one of the most enjoyable things about being a consultant.
I’m not talking about my suspect dance moves here. I’m actually talking about a very powerful problem solving technique.
Customers don’t hire consultants to work on easy problems. They’ve got those covered already. My customers are some of the smartest people I know and I’m sure you feel the same about the people you work with too (well at least most of them).
Sometimes though, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. There are times when you’ve got a problem on your hands that just won’t budge, despite your very best efforts to make progress. In other words you’re stuck!
Jiggle it, Just a Little Bit
What you need is a jiggler. Someone to cause precise changes that ultimately lead the system to come unstuck and start moving again. To “oil the machine” so to speak.
Being a good consultant means being able to jiggle. You don’t have to solve all your of clients problems and most don’t want you to. My customers often just want the right amount of help to get them moving in the right direction once again.
It’s about being effective, understanding and using leverage to amplify your impact/results. Sometimes the slightest adjustment is all that is needed, the skill or perhaps the art, is in knowing what to jiggle (consulting is as much about people as it is about technology).
What Makes a Good Jiggler?
- Has an assortment of experience to call upon
- Is a subject matter expert
- Can see things differently/offer a fresh perspective
- Can move between big picture thinking and the details
- Is not constrained by the current environment, culture or thinking
- Is not already close to the problem.
- Is not afraid to ask questions
You Can Jiggle Too
This powerful problem solving technique is not limited to the domain of consultants only. It’s something that you can do with your own customers and within your place of work too.
I’m sure you already posses some of the desirable qualities for the role. You’re certainly interested in your chosen subject area, SQL Server and database technology, else you wouldn’t be here reading to begin with.
I would say that the most challenging part (particularly for us technology folks) is getting in the right mindset. Once there, you will often find the pieces to your puzzle present themselves and it’s simply a case of moving forward with putting those pieces together.
[The theme of "getting in the right mindset" is too big to cover adequately in a blog post, especially when you consider entire books have been written on the subject (See Resources below) but I wanted to emphasise the importance of it to you here now. One of the most valuable investments I have made in my own professional development has been in this area. Consider that in order to get the very best from your own mind, you first need to understand how it works, as best you can.]
Think about some of the problems and challenges that you face in your environment. How might you use this technique to help yourself and your company come unstuck?
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Talk a problem through with someone different - Sometimes help can be found close by and often where you might not expect it. Take developers (gasp) for example.
- If you’re stuck and your current way of thinking is not giving you the answers, then you need to do something different. To see things different, to come at the problem from another direction.
- How about a change of scene? Sometimes simply changing the location where you think about your challenge can open you up to new ideas.
I know many of you are already skilled in the art of jiggling. Share your thoughts and experiences in comments. You can also contact me using the blog form.
- On being an effective consultant - The Secrets of Consulting
- For “getting in the right mindset” – Pragmatic Thinking and Learning