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#110: Keeping Your Spark Alive

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, August 14, 2009
After twenty years in management consulting, it is getting routine. It's not that it isn't rewarding and stimulating, just that it has become routine. Advice?

One of the "occupational hazards" of most work is that it often becomes routine. Even professions that might seem highly varied like consulting, medicine, or law can involve the same scope and sequence of activities, even though the client, specific tools and disciplines may vary. Engagements begin to run together and we can expect that a project a year from now will be similar to ones are working on now. Changing clients or tools or processes will not get us out of our mental rut.

After running Disney for a few decades, Michael Eisner is now engaged in developing content for a private media company. He led Disney exceptionally well but yearned for something different. In a recent Harvard Business Review article venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson talks about how our workplaces reinforce developing high competencies in increasingly narrow domains. His solution is spot on - to find a way to supplement our routine with an activity as a counterpoint (his is model rocketry). The result is a fresh perspective and often a playful and creative stimulus.

Tip: Pick a diversion or hobby such as painting, gardening, music, or become an expert go player, something that requires your attention and creativity and, not the least, fun. You might be surprised how much you will begin to fuse the two and see how what you once considered routine gradually blends into your creative outlet. It will bring new insight into your consulting approaches.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting lifestyle  your consulting practice 

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Eric Phelps says...
Posted Friday, April 23, 2010
In Bob Sutton’s book “Weird Ideas That Work” he talks about companies that encourage a “sabbatical” in an entirely different field in order to stimulate new thinking. For example, a toy designer spent a month study astronomy. IDEO actually builds in opportunities for people to do this on a regular basis. Read poetry, study music, take two weeks at Woods Hole and study oceanography… I bet it will have good implications for your work with clients.

I find that in my consulting work it is INVALUABLE to read, read, read – but in fields OTHER than consulting… this might be a suggestion for future inquiries about informing your profession. We are, after all, in the business of sharing ideas and cross-pollinating disciplines.
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