One of my all-time favorite non-fiction books is "Fooled By Randomness", by Nassim N. Taleb. The core idea behind it is that we often understand luck as skill, and that success is more random than we think.
Rereading it, I came across a passage that might be relevant for some of us consultants:
"The Greek philosopher Pyrrho, who advocated a life of equanimity and indifference, was criticized for failing to keep his composure during a critical circumstance (he was chased by an ox). His answer was that he found it sometimes difficult to rid himself of his humanity. If Pyrrho cannot stop being human, I do not see why the rest of us should resemble the rational man who acts perfectly under uncertainty as propounded by economic theory."
"One of the most irritating conversations I’ve had is with people who lecture me on how I should behave. Most of us know pretty much how we should behave. It is the execution that is the problem, not the absence of knowledge."
This is a beautiful reflection of the old knowledge vs execution challenge.
In most cases, your clients don't know how to solve their problems. Often, they don't even know they have a problem - they're doing the best with what they have. You are the expert, and it's your responsibility to show them the risks and opportunities they need to act on to improve their life and business.
With that said, not every problem requires a complex solution. The source of most challenges is not your clients' current tools or infrastructure. But their behavior.
Your client needs to change their priorities. Executives need to change the way they manage their time or learn how to perform tasks differently. People need to change the way they behave and interact with their peers.
And once you provide them with the knowledge, what's left is the execution. They know what to do, but struggle to actually do it. Change is hard.
If you've been through that before, ask yourself: How can I support clients to better implement the changes I'm requesting, and ensure long-term success?
- Can you perform or demonstrate the skills with them?
- Can you use habit-building strategies (start small, focus on slow and incremental improvements, and increase accountability)?
- Are you being empathetic and providing emotional support to your clients during this change process?