As part of the transition of any organisation, the labels we place on ourselves, on our professional identify or our affiliation can become a liability. These often self-imposed labels can hinder our progress, make certain choices invisible to us, even stop us in our tracks, in fear of us transgressing some rule from above.
I would like to suggest that challenging these labels, however well entrenched they may be, is an integral part of our transition. Let me elaborate:
For much of my professional life, I have been what you may refer to as a consultant (yes, I can see the image already forming in your mind). I did have a ‘real job’ before becoming one (a somewhat redeeming quality?) and was able to practice my craft in many different countries (possibly a bonus point, or two), but ultimately, having twenty years of ‘working in the consulting industry’ does add up to a label.
Fast forward to 2019, sitting amongst our team and drawing-up our manifesto, a wonderfully rich account of what makes our team different, what we stand for and why it matters – I began to realise that the label I have been given does not do justice to what we do. It wasn’t about us doing better work (that might be somewhat arrogant to claim and I know some incredible individuals who are like me often called consultants). What made me feel uncomfortable was that the label said very little about who we are, what we do or what makes us different. In some way, it was making us feel, well…average i.e. if we skim off the brilliant and mediocre, consultants ‘stack up to’ this…(please feel free to add any suitable label here). And so our manifesto became a much richer source of insight as to who we are and the word consultant, well, didn’t really feature.
Here are two words that do a much better job at this – Partnership and Growth. At our essence, and underlying everyone we do, is the belief that the people and the organisations we work with have real, genuine and often incredibly insightful aspirations. And these aspirations – to grow, to become, to make an impact, require partnerships. As Growth Partners, we help our clients think through, design for and act on their growth aspirations.
With this rather more accurate label – Growth Partners, comes a set of skills and capabilities we have been developing over the years. Again, the generic consulting set, while relevant, just doesn’t do justice to it. I am incredibly proud, for example, at our ability to connect our clients with fellow executives in organisations experiencing similar transitions – these could come from different industries, different regions and they may even work within different regulatory regimes, but the connections that are made, the peer learning that happens and the new perspectives that emerge, bring the words Growth Partner to life.
This morning, we took the next step into becoming true growth partners. We sat together as a team to craft our vision for the coming five years. It is not an easy task in today’s environment (see my post of last week) and called for some new tools, but the deliberate act of envisioning our organisation five years from now, within this complexity, the enduring traits and (importantly!) what our clients and partners might require through this period, was such an important conversation. We are writing our manifesto for a post-COVID world – our manifesto 2.0, and within it, being true partners is at the core.
Thank you to everyone who’s contributed to our visioning process.
Have a good weekend everyone!
Saar Ben-Attar (A Connector Beyond Limits)
"Questions are taken for granted rather than given a starring role in the human drama. Yet all my teaching and consulting experience has taught me that what builds a relationship, what solves problems, what moves things forward is asking the right questions."