[Warning: This dives deep into my tech strategy consulting psyche so if you just want the whiskey recipe – it is Friday after all - command-down arrow]
By this time next week, I would have been traveling every week for the last 10 weeks with nary a break. Now, for some, this will elicit some “pffts”. But let me tell you, this is just about as exciting for me as weekly trips to the dentist. To underscore the level of anathema, I will confess that in graduate school, I committed the career no-no of abandoning one of the most coveted internships — with one of the Big 4 — midstream, because I could not bear the weekly check-in and check-out of hotel rooms. (That and the cavalier use of the phrase “continuous process improvement”) Needless to say, I was not Career Services’ favorite child.
Couple that with the vagaries of client service. Oy.
But today, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I had lunch with my favorite philanthropoid and we brainstormed ideas to support a gem of a nonprofit arts venue and incubator in the East End. It was the most fun I have had all week. Which reminded me of the aspect of consulting I loved best: helping organizations innovate.
Working with technology start-ups satiates this compulsion. However, not all technology companies are created equal and for those who don’t have the bias for- or the internal discipline, the slippery slope of “innovation decay” typically follows a curve with time on the x-axis. While I would choose to fill my dance card with clients close to the origin at all times OR with clients who rigorously strive for innovation (no matter where they are in the life cycle), fate is not always on my side. The bell curve will persist.
I think a recent blog post from Paul Burke @ Thinktiv – a venture accelerator – could not have said it better. “The innovation thinking of the start up will turn into spreadsheet level optimization—and the hay-day of infinite possibilities will narrow to polishing a button.”
“Spreadsheet level optimization.” Brilliant. I have visions of Brazil. Can they make it sound more innovation killer? I snore just looking at it. But he speaks the truth.
The title of the post is, “The end of client services? Nah… the end of _traditional_ client services” and it is my manifesto of the moment. Stumbling upon it was the web browsing equivalent of an uncannily context-appropriate tarot card reading.
This is the ideal world. “….businesses have two kinds of people: innovators and operators. Innovators are there to invent new things and imagine the possibilities, where operators are there to make businesses more efficient… In this world the creative thinkers and innovators continue to build on their successes …creating trust and modeling efficiencies into the innovation practice itself. It allows for operators to make timely transitions into critical roles optimizing the existing business assets, while innovators drop back to a support role or move on to the next innovations.”
(I warned you to scroll down if you just wanted that cocktail recipe!)
“For organizations who embrace this new (venture accelerator) model, in the short term they get an expert result, but in the long term they get continued attention from the innovators in a time when they otherwise would have lost interest. And with the above, the client service business is not ending, it is changing and moving towards a completely different practice model.”
A model that includes the presupposition that “often, the best service we can provide to a client is to disagree with them.”
Hallelujah. Life would always be beautiful if everyone thought this way. Why is it not so? Because most consulting firms, in the traditional model, do not reap shared benefits from liquidity and macro-events but rather live and die on retainer-bound tactical implementation. Sure, the big bang happens but in the transition from the “big strategy presentation” phase (the challenging but fun part, usually a one-time fee) to the “operating” phase — the strategic mindset and innovation bias tend to get lost and at its worst, the pressure becomes to play “safe” (i.e. not rock the boat) The client and the consulting firm are now riding the same post-crest wave, no one is paddling back to catch the next one. Aye, there’s the rub. And what prompts true strategists to say, “I need a drink.”
Hedging on this possibility (the law of averages, remember), I was happy to discover an INNOVATIVE craft distillery right in my backyard. What an inspiration. Last week’s travel fatigue was redeemed by a tour of the yet-to-be-opened craft whiskey distillery in the Strip District – Wigle. (Wikipedia “whiskey rebellion” and you’ll know why). I was very excited to hear about Eric Meyer‘s new venture. I was gifted with a pre-launch tour of Wigle’s facilities. Wigle uses local grains and makes whiskey from scratch. Most of the 200-odd craft distilleries that have recently opened in the U.S. don’t start from the grain. Wigle does. Not that I’m one, but this is the foodiementalist’s dream.
(As promised, there is a gustatory end to all this.)
I am a woman AND I love whiskey – thanks to abovementioned philanthropoid who hosted my first ever whiskey tasting (see all my posts come full circle at some point!) From then on, I swore, I would advocate to change women’s relationship with whiskey.
I can’t think of a better Soma than a whiskey cocktail. Especially after these past few weeks.
I will talk about Wigle more when they open but let’s just say that one of their offerings will be White Whiskey. What’s that? Did you say “moonshine?” Quite. It is whiskey right out of the still. The Counterculture’s new poison. Purists are already hatin’ on it. Which makes said hipster-rebels love it even more, of course.
While you wait for Wigle to open, you can try the Death’s Door cocktail being offered at Salt (see, I told you its hip) or make your own – I call this the Brooklyn. Because its better than Manhattan. Natch.
1 ½ oz. White Whiskey
½ oz. Blanc or Sweet Vermouth
½ oz. Benedictine Liquer
3 dashes Orange Bitters
½ oz. sugar syrup
1 twist orange peel
Maraschino cherries or citrus sections
Mix whiskey, vermouth, Benedictine, bitters and sugar syrup. Pour over ice in an old fashioned glass. Rub the orange peel on the rim of the glass and twist to release the rest of the oils. Discard peel. Serve with maraschino cherries or citrus sections.
(PS. Apologies to blog purists for the stock photo! It is the first and, I promise, the last time.)