energizing breakthrough performance

I Am Lucky to Have Smart Clients

Author: ; Published: Dec 20, 2009; Category: Matrix Management; Tags: , ; No Comments»

They tell me that a business blogger should offer a personal observation from time to time as a way of introducing oneself and providing a more complete picture of the person who is delivering professional services. So let’s take a crack at it and springboard from today’s activities. One of the things that management consultants have to do is keep their Statement of Corporate Qualifications current. That’s because you are looking for a new job every day. I have been looking for a new job every day for the past quarter century! Anyway, this task involves listing clients and reference contacts, describing assignments and the like. When you are writing a major proposal, it’s only natural that prospects want to know where you have done work before and how they can contact your references to assess client satisfaction with completed projects. I confess that I don’t keep the Statement as current as I should. What with client work involving extensive travel, sometimes international, it gets hard to squeeze in such a task. However, periodically I do get it done and I make sure that every assignment gets posted (except for those governed by Non-Disclosure Agreements).

I was updating the Corporate Qualifications the other day and decided to count the number of clients for which I had done work related to matrix management. Imagine my surprise when I noticed that the January 2010 cumulative total is 50; just for those related to matrix management! A handful of these were here in the Washington DC area, but the vast bulk involved travel.

I recall fondly my first matrix management client. It was Boehringer Mannheim Pharmaceuticals–now Boehringer Ingleheim. This was some two decades ago. The R&D section had a facility up in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Suburban Maryland had an up-and-coming pharma and biotech corridor that’s now pretty well established. The Director of R&D, now retired, was an MD and a former executive at the FDA. As I described my approach to the assignment – it was a matrix organization “tune-up” project for an existing matrix structure, I saw his eyes light up. He said to me, “As a scientist, I must admit that I am both surprised and delighted…you have a structured, systematic approach to all of this.; I feel better already.”

It was through that first assignment that I learned how much I enjoy working with scientific and technical people and intelligent and engaged people, in general. Their personalities tend to be pleasing, or, at minimum, highly interesting. They insist on logical, step-by-step approaches. Boehringer was a great environment in which to “cut my teeth.” Boehringer was the first of many pharma clients. The Director of R&D and later, the COO for the U.S., provided me with many interesting challenges. They did so even though I had a steep learning curve about the industry. Then, as time went by, new industries presented themselves. There was more for me to learn and yet other executives gave me the benefit of the doubt that, indeed, I could learn about the contours of their industry and then apply my templates and knowledge to assist them. Through all of this, I began to see transcendent dynamics which apply to many, if not all industries. I also began to connect the dots and become confident that I could work a particular industry, either because I had worked in that industry before or because it was a “neighbor” that shared common core characteristics with an industry in which I had worked previously.

I am fortunate in having so many smart clients. I have learned something from each and every one of them and that has, in turn, helped me work more effectively with the next client. Along the way, I have made many friends. Sometimes the travel gets a bit much but, all in all, the level of satisfaction involved in helping people get the most out of our consulting and training services along with the opportunity to work with great people and make friends along the way – balances everything out. The job also provides a great deal of variety: There is no boredom. I am grateful for my clients – past, present, and future. I just have to remember to write it all down.

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