At our last Crisp conference we were discussing different types consulting engagements, and someone (Olle Hallin I think) came up with a useful metaphor – Seals and Albatrosses! Recently we added Ducks and Anglerfishes as well!
Some of us are Seal consultants. A Seal is faithful and dedicated to one single client pretty much full-time. The Seal consultant takes a deep breath, dives in, and then stays under water with the client for months (hmmm… perhaps Whale would be a better metaphore). The Seal doesn’t have much time for other stuff such as teaching courses or going to conferences. Once in a while a Seal will pop up above the surface, take a deep breath & learn some new stuff, perhaps find a new client, and then dive deep again.
Seal work takes patience and dedication. You need to take special care not to get too deep too long, and remember to come up for breath once in a while to expand your horizons. You also need to select your clients carefully since the decision has a big impact on your daily life.
Seals are usually cute and playful.
Some of us are Albatross consultants. We sail around high in the sky and travel great distances. Once in a while we plunge into the water and grab a juicy fish, then up inte the sky again. The Albatross gets to see many different places – but doesn’t stay still long enough to get to know any single client well. The Albatross is flexible and free. No client will complain if the Albatross decides to spend a week going to a conference or writing a book. On the downside, the Albatross spends a significant amount of his time coordinating with his clients and fiddling with his schedule trying to make everything fit together.
The Albatross has to be careful not to sail too high into the clouds and lose touch with reality. It can get lonely and insecure up there in the sky, always on the move, not having your own cozy little cubicle to call home. The returns are great but freedom does have a price.
Albatrosses are usually swift and graceful.
Some of us are Duck consultants – a compromise between the Seal and the Albatross.
Like the Seal, we have one specific client that we focus on. Unlike the Seal, however, we don’t spend all our time under water with that one client. Like the Albatross, we sometimes spread our wings and visit other clients or teach courses or attend conferences. But the Duck has one particular pond that he likes to return to, a client that has gotten to know well and perhaps spends one or two days per week with. Long enough to get to know the client, but not long enough to get below the surface.
Ducks are usually pretty and funny.
Some of us used to be Anglerfish consultants before joining Crisp.
Anglerfish are way down in the dark, lost, wandering aimlessly with nothing but a small artificial light to guide them. Sometimes they are lucky and manage to attract a small fish. As opposed to the Albatross, the Anglerfish can’t see the horizon and doesn’t choose where to go – it just floats around and eats whatever scraps it happens to bump into. The Anglerfish never goes up to the surface to see the big picture or learn something new – in fact, he doesn’t even know the direction to the surface.
Anglerfish are usually ugly and scary.
Thanks for contributing this one, Patrik :o)
Which type of consultant are you?
Most of us shift roles from time to time. I used to be a Seal. Now I’m an Albatross, and hoping to become a bit more like a Duck during the next half year or so. <sales-pitch>So let me know if you need a Duck consultant for one day per week or so :o) </sales-pitch>
Sometimes we all meet up on a rock and make noise together (except for the asocial Anglerfish of course, but I don’t think we have any of those at Crisp). For example at Crisp RDs (internal workshops that we do every other week) or international conferences. Great fun!
Are you a consultant? if so, what type? Are you happy with that? If not, what are you going to do about it?
(ps – the photos above are courtesy of whoever I stole them from)