Posts Tagged ‘Life’

Real value of a consultant

March 31, 2014 Leave a comment

Having returned from a loooong hiatus, here’s what I see as a sequel to my last article on consulting >>> Professional reflections – My first year of consulting at the Firm

“Being a great leader is often less a matter of eloquence and more a matter of repetition and consistency.” – Lou Gerstner

Over the last few days, I have started reading a couple of books one of which is “The Firm”, an external perspective on what McKinsey is and what makes up the McKinsey culture. While I can be completely honest that some content in the book will not pass a factual check, there is some content that drew my attention which I wanted to share below.

My thought process is very closely aligned with what the character, Mike Ross, says to his boss, Harvey Specter, in one of the episodes of the TV series, The Suits. It goes something like this, “I know what kind of a lawyer I can be if I am as smart as you, but what I want to learn is what kind of a person I want to be.” (Don’t hold me to the exact wording of the quote… I don’t have as great a photographic memory as Mike Ross).

Anyways, going back to the main topic, I was impressed by what Marvin Bower articulated in his 1997 book, The Will to Lead, as five responsibilities of a professional consultant. I go a step further to add an overarching sixth responsibility that sets the foundation for these five responsibilities.
0. Must hold oneself accountable for being morally right in everything he/she does
1. Must put client’s interests ahead of the firm’s interests
2. Must adhere to the highest standards of truthfulness, integrity, and trustworthiness
3. Must keep to himself/ herself the client’s private and proprietary information
4. Must maintain an independent position and tell the client the truth as he sees it
5. Must provide only services that have real value

A true consultant actually ends up playing four roles:
_ Lawyer for the discretion and integrity
_ Engineer for the scientific, fact-based rigor and precision to the task
_ Doctor for dispensing advice to unhealthy organizations on how to get better and to healthy organizations on how to stay that way
_ Priest for serving clients and being a responsible member of the community

To do this, key ingredients, that Marvin called the McKinsey persona, are:
_ Being selfless
_ Being prepared to sacrifice money and fame for the sake of building a stronger firm
_ Never look for public credit
_ Confident and discreet


The last sermon of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

November 27, 2011 3 comments

This is the English translation of the last sermon of Prophet Muhammad (May Peace Be Upon Him)… taken from Huda website.

This sermon was delivered on the Ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah, 10 A.H. (623AD) in the Uranah valley of Mount Arafat in Mecca. It was the occasion of annual rites of Hajj. It is also known as the Farewell Pilgrimage. After praising and thanking Allah the Prophet Muhammad (May the Peace be upon him) began with the words:

O People! Lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore, listen carefully to what I am saying and take these words to those who could not be present here today.

O People! Just as you regard this month, this day, this city as sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that he will indeed reckon your deeds.

Allah has forbidden you to take usury; therefore all interest obligations shall henceforth be waived. Your capital is yours to keep .You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequality. Allah has judged that there shall be no interest and that all interest due to Abbas Ibn ‘Aal-Muttalib be waived.

Every right arising out of homicide in pre-Islamic days is henceforth waived and the first such right that I waive is that arising from the murder of Rabiah ibn al-Harithiah.

Read more…

Optimism vs. Pragmatism

March 2, 2010 1 comment

Put these two in the boxing ring… and almost everyone in the audience will vote for ‘optimism’ and fail to even recognize ‘pragmatism’ as its rival. Why?

With 75% (just a random assumption!!!) of the world’s population being in some kind of crisis… be it professional or personal, the only words of wisdom they keep hearing from their “well-wishers” are “BE OPTIMISTIC” (B+). Does it help you, me or for that matter anyone to hear these comforting statements??? It’s like the case of being put into a tiger’s cage and standing in front of a bunch of hungry tigers… and being optimistic that you will come out alive in one piece.

Alas, somewhere in all the worldly worries that have been plaguing us, we seem to have lost a sense of reality… thereby introducing a dichotomy in the optimism-pragmatism relationship. And this has affected everything… some of my like-minded fellow writers have even attributed this optimism cult as a harbinger of the crisis. Maybe or maybe not!!!

You can see two contrasting schools of thought in these articles:
Loving life with Optimism
How Positive Thinking wrecked the Economy

Well, I am not against being happy. Optimism is definitely needed… but in a controlled measure with a parallel dose of pragmatism. An overdose of it has resulted in a staggering shift from reality. Shifting gears to the business context, no longer is business decision making rational… whereby pragmatism would ensure business leaders’ ears are as closer to the ground as possible while their eyes are set towards the skies.

So, while hope and faith is there to rule our minds as we traverse through these myriad crises, it is important for us to be real… by having a realistic mixture of optimism and pragmatism. So, who wins? Neither optimism nor pragmatism can win battles on their own… but together, they can ensure maximum impact.

Here’s to pragmoptimism!!!