There are a number of newer consultants and newer people in our industry that I have been working with lately, and that has led to a very common question:
“Starting out, what is the number one thing you suggest that I focus on learning?”
I don’t know if I can give one thing, but I can definitely give a few things:
1) Understand how businesses move and make decisions – Business DO NOT MOVE RATIONALLY, nor are they easy to move. There is an art to changing the direction and most importantly, knowing how to say NO to someone and get them to move to the path they need to.
2) Understand that interacting with clients is the job, and that having a strategy for the engagement, and then acting proactively on that strategy, is the name of the game. Don’t ever get stuck being reactive.
3) Start learning the disciplines of optimization. Don’t ever focus on the tactical actions, but instead focus on the disciplines, why you do something, and why you don’t tackle problems like other disciplines
4) Start understanding cognitive biases. You will deal with them all day long, and you better be able to understand and cope with your clients and your own.
What the job most definitely is not:
1) Learn how to do everything the tool can do… You will learn the tool, but information without context is not knowledge. Any monkey can learn a tool, but it only has as much value as how it is leveraged.