getting started in consulting

Don Ferretti dferrett at
Fri Jun 18 11:33:16 PDT 2004

My thought is that you are being hired for your expertise as a
consultant - not a manager. I do not think that having experience
managing in an organization is a prerequisite to being able to consult
and help an organization see the forest for the trees or, whatever.
Also, if you are highly skilled in opening space and that is what you
like to do most - then stick with it. The marketplace will give you the
feedback you need to decide if you need to add other practices.

Don Ferretti
530.889.6763 (fax)

>>> raffi at 06/18/04 10:46AM >>>
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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