My recent grumpy posts may leave you, gentle reader, with the impression that I regret leaving my old job, or feel I may have made a mistake. While I must admit that I do miss certain aspects of my old company, and I certainly miss my friends there, I have no regrets. In terms of my career, this was the right move to make. I have a much greater ability to make a positive impact now than I did before, both within the small consulting startup that pays my salary and for the clients we serve. I expect that we will someday set the standard for how to get things done, and I want to be in the forefront of that effort. Working at a "grown-up" organization is part of the price of this new reach, as well as part of the learning process. Until I see what it is like to work for a company, I can't effectively suggest improvements in that environment.
This has always been my biggest complaint about consultants: they zoom in, hold a few interviews, then drop a binder of standard "customized" recommendations on some VP or CEO's desk and stand their with their hands out, waiting for a huge check. After they collect it, they leave the poor souls to figure out how to make those recommendations work. They never make a lasting impact, and they rarely stick around to see if their "improvements" stuck. Given the inertia of organizational culture, I would argue that they rarely work. In fact, I would argue that most consulting is built upon the fact that that model doesn't work, so they have to come back with a bigger team to do it again. That, to my mind, is cheating, and I want to find a way to actually help people accomplish something at their jobs again. We're all here for a third or more of every day; we should have something to show for it.
Oops, sorry: got sidetracked there for a moment. Back on the subject of regrets. Whenever I remember all the great things about my old job, I also remember that many of those memories are several years old. The company that I left was not the company that I joined, and it didn't fit me anymore. Like the wedding tux that seems to have shrunk in the intervening years, my old job both pinched and chafed. It still looks good from a distance, but I remember the discomfort. It was time to get a new suit. Who knows, though? Maybe someday the tux can be altered and I'll find that it fits again. Until then, I'll keep working to make this new one fit.
Friday, June 06, 2003