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October 3, 2008

Into the cold

A couple of years ago I flew to Canada from the UK for a high level assignment with a utilities firm there. Calgary is an extremely cold place, I arrived in the depths of winter - and I'm from the desert!

I thought I was going their to sit with them, look over their work and offer some advice on what / how they could take things to the next level in terms of their asset planning and profitability.


When I arrived I was informed that I was to run a three day workshop / training event for the senior management across the organization ona whole range of areas from people management, through to KPI's, right though to Reliability techniques and practices. (Sorry for the language barrier, there is not a gigantic pool of people who actually work in this area)

Oh yeah, and I was told this en-route to the office, where I was to begin the engagement in about half an hour. 

Wonderful... So there is a whole story here about getting the deal right from the beginning...but thats a different post. 

Although this is an extreme case, being caught off guard is not an unusual situation for anybody who spends their time in the consulting field. 

So I stood up, got my two flipcharts set up. (I always "demand" two flip charts) And started to use "the force".

It went incredibly well. Sort of like the first time a practicing guitarist gets to do a live solo - and she nails it!

We covered everything they wanted to, we even covered some of their own issues and projects, we went into implementation, their past failures, and I even got to meet with their CEO due to what we had been discussing previously.

They set their course based on this discussion - and two years later I remain in contact with them on a range of issues. 

But I'm actually going somewhere with this.

None of this would have happened if I was not the master of my domain, with an ability to present, and a skill for facilitation. (None - 0)

So even though I was caught unawares, my training and years of preparation enabled me to turn it to my advantage, preent an interactive couple of days briefing, and solidify my relationships with significant decision makers within that company. 

By the way, they realized they had blown it when I got their, and that there was a severe miscomunnication. So when I was able to "shine" it saved them from considerable embarrassment. 

So the morale of this tale?

Be prepared, and the best way to be prepared is to be good, very good, at what you do and at communicating the value of what you do. Everybody in the field of consulting should be able to present "cold" on any subject within their (very broad) field of knowledge. At any time, to any audience. Period. 

Can you?

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