getting started in consulting

Raffi Aftandelian raffi at
Fri Jun 18 10:46:57 PDT 2004

Dear listers,

[Below is a letter I sent to two folks on the list privately, one of them convinced me to post it. After giving it some thought I have posted it with some minor edits.] 

I have been very troubled recently by some thoughts and wanted to run them by you (by the way, I would post this to the listserv, but right now I don't feel ready to, it seems too personal!)

The story:

I have been sending an appeal letter to various friends and colleagues to raise the funds to go the OSonOS in Goa.

One of the responses I got was from a mentor of mine, a prominent North American political and social activist/trainer and occasional consultant to (nonprofit) organizations. He was the person I had said in a previous post felt that OS is oversold. 

His "beef" with OS from a consultant perspective is:

If you go around consulting organizations and you only have one tool in your toolkit, why would I want to use you? In other words, if you go around life with a hammer, you're going to see every problem as a nail.

I had a conversation with him a while back and was consulting on my life direction with him, the plusses and minuses of getting (deeply) into OS and the like. 

Later, in response to my funding letter, he wrote (paraphrasing): 

To attempt to consult organizations using OS (or any other OD tool) without the (significant) prior experience of managing one (thus having been in the shoes of the director of an organization) reflects the pretense of a twenty-something. That being in my mid-30's I should know better. That no right-thinking organization should/would really want to hire me as a consultant if I don't have a track record. A track record of managing organizations. A consultant who hasn't had the nuts and bolts experience of having dealt with the nitty-gritty of managing is apt to be in the clouds, not likely to really understand what the organization is going through. [I understand that initially he consciously chose putting his thoughts to me in a "tough love" kind of way; later he broke it down for me]

One of the underlying messages on using OS that I gleaned from Harrison's User's Guide - if I recall correctly- (being somewhat reductive here) is the Nike slogan "Just DO it!"

I find it hard to argue with him on this question about acquiring requisite managerial experience to offer a more "grounded" OS.

As I understand, many listers in the OS world, managed in different contexts, consulted (traditionally) in different contexts before they started using OS consciously. 

My own managerial experience is limited at this point; I don't necessarily want to get into managing organizations even over the short term. But maybe this is something I nevertheless need to do?

Your thoughts?



p.s. And yet I know that part of my passion lies with OS, I have no choice but to follow it, right or wrong...

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