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Consultant’s Brand

In order to achieve strategic goals few years ago at SAP, How We Run strategy was created. It was created by the Employees, for the Employees. How we Run is Our Culture, which defines key behaviors. All our goals, performance measures whether is it is individual performance or performance of our team engaging with customers are measured against these behavioural principles. This also gives strategic directions to us while we make right choices on a daily basis in our workplace or otherwise

Key Principles of #HowWeRun are;

  • Keep the Promise
  • Tell It like it is
  • Stay Curious
  • Build Bridges, not silos
  • Embrace Differences

From being a Consultant who empowers businesses to adopt capabilities of SAP, out of its Intelligent Enterprise applications, I would like to rearrange them as below;

  • Stay Curious
  • Tell it like It is
  • Keep the Promise
  • Embrace the Differences
  • Build Bridges, not silos

Context of the above rearrangement, we will discuss one by one during in the course of this blog post. Everything I want to write is from point of view of a Consultant’s Brand. How it is relevant even when you are representing the global brand like SAP and if we don’t really take care of individual’s brand then how it can impact the environment you are in, brand that you represent and last but not the least your own conscience.

There is a famous quote which is attributed to Albert Einstein, which goes like..”The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources”. In consulting world many follow this. They learn a trade to achieve a critical customer requirement in one way and then they start hiding this source from others like some kids who play with the same toy for years with a false notion that its new every time they picked it up…! Maybe it’s the way knowledge-based industry really works but SAP world is a world of possibilities. Especially in digital core there are many ways to achieve a customer requirement.  By starting to hide one’s sources, one slowly stops being really creative in finding new ways or better ways to achieve certain customer requirement. So the first principle of consulting is ‘ Stay Curious ‘ , thereby be a creative consultant with own individual brand.

Most common words we use when we don’t know how a product really works is ‘It’s designed to work the way it is…!” Believe me, most customers buy this, reason being we represent the product company itself. But it is important to understand for a consultant, the core design principles of the product/application. Easy access that we have to product owners and documentation should be our key resources to get to the bottom of it. At the same time, it is important to accept the limitations of the product/application with the customer or partner. Every product has learning curve whether it is a software or any product for that matter. Similarly, it’s fine to explain the limitations of the product as is also saying ‘I don’t know’ when you do not know some topic. Because everyone who knows SAP is aware that one cannot learn a module in such way to claim he/she knows everything about it, every possible business scenario that can be addressed it. So ” Tell it Like it Is” whether about your own knowledge or the product’s capability, this is the first step towards building a genuine trust with our clients. One more thing… It’s fine to highlight some parts of your resume to show relevance at times, but to tell customers that you know something when you have never worked on, is just being unfair to customer and also takes a toll on your own brand as a consultant.

Whether it is your commitment to deliver a project by certain timeline or a specific task by a deadline or participation in a meeting at agreed time, however small step or major activity with lot of dependent steps, show complete involvement to keep up the promises made. This is one trait which gives an individual a brand of his own which also percolates to the organization you represent. There will be slippages for sure sometimes, in those cases if you then fall back to earlier principle of ‘tell it like it is’ , that will surely give you enough time to recover from those slippages and restore faith. However small the project is, have a plan, clearly defined deliverable, Status reports or I would like to call it as “State As Is” Reports and set clear expectations with client on them.

So, the first three points are most relevant from what you deliver as consultant, thereby creating your own standards, in line with your organization’s standards. Next 2 points are more towards the environment where you work and also on the ecosystem of consultants in your relevant area of expertise.

It is quite common to have an environment which is not really fair to many. Reasons could be biases, prejudices, concerns, politics, could be anything. But a consultant should show his maturity to iron out the differences. This becomes easy when you set yourself higher standards always by not competing with your peers. Staying one level up makes all the difference and allows your peers not look at you as a competition but someone who can help them when they are in trouble from such situations. Remember the first point, everyone has their sources of strength from their experiences in different customer engagements, understand them, treat everyone as unique, never underestimate their abilities, have a mindset to learn from everyone. These things will somehow always put you in comfortable position in managing the differences in competitive consulting world. Tough to practice but if you master the art of not expecting anything in return from management, then it will eventually add more to your kitty, over a period of time…!

It’s natural for anyone to build a false sense of pride with growing experience. Especially when you are a subject matter expert and has been performing well over years, it’s important to stay grounded and stay curious to learn new topics. Team manager or Individual contributor, they both are mutually inclusive roles. However small may be your role in a project, you should look at yourself as that missing link which adds strength to the chain/larger scheme of things. This approach enables you to build those necessary bridges of information/knowledge in your team–unit–organization, rather than sitting on pile of redundant information. Redundant information leads to stagnation and stagnant water stinks…!

So, I conclude here by stating, like you invest in your learning, you invest some decent amount of time and efforts also in building your own brand. Become a brand that bonds well with others…!

 

Cheers…!

 

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