I find many consultants are way too busy “doing”, and not intentional enough about “designing.” This is especially true for solo advisors, or partners of boutique firms with an internal team of fewer than 10 people.
Richard Koch wrote a magnificent book titled “The 80/20 Principle”. The entire thing is inspired by and built upon the ideas of Pareto, with a simple and powerful central idea: 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes.
A few things are important, most are not. Here’s a quote from the book that clearly communicates the idea:
"Hold on, relax, and think for a moment. If only 10 percent of our time is really used to great effect, it follows that 90 percent isn’t, and that this time is available for high-value activity. If we take the numbers literally, we could double our high-value activity and still have 70 percent of our time left to waste. This goes both for individuals and for the corporations in which we work.
So we shouldn’t be worried about shortage of time; this is an illusion. We don’t need to speed up. What we need to do is stop spending our time in low-quality/low-output ways."
This is great news for all of you busy consultants. You don't need more hours in a day (just like you don't need more clients, only better ones).
It means that if you want increase to effectiveness (earn more while working less), all you need to do is:
- Slow down and schedule time for reflection;
- Clarify and document the outcomes (and measurable KPIs) you want to achieve;
- And then (and only then) reverse engineer it to design what are the few projects or high-impact activities you should perform on a day-to-day basis.
Find out what are the 80% of your activities that are not worth your time, and ruthlessly eliminate, delegate, or automate them.
Design before doing.