The Blue Jay

I’m having breakfast looking out at the bird feeder, which I refilled yesterday. The squirrels have not yet emptied the “squirrel proof” feeder, largely because Koufax has been on a tear out there.

Surprisingly, a Blue Jay lands on the feeder and is industriously pulling out seed. Blue Jays are normally ground feeders, and it’s odd to see this large, loud bird balancing on the feeder. I suspect he’d toss a squirrel off himself if he had to. These are aggressive, opportunistic birds.

Yet, the Jay is flexible. For whatever reasons (probably because the absence of squirrels means that no food has spilled on the ground), he has decided to use the feeder and, despite his infrequent visits, has created a nice technique, bending his body to reach the access meant for smaller birds at another level. He has improvised nicely.

He reminds me of the trouble with a lot of consultants, who have a sales process (or team building program, or decision making methodology, or a strategy retreat regimen) which is as rigid as an I-beam. They “customize” by changing the name on the materials or providing a custom binder, but they are essentially pounding everything in sight with the same hammer.

Virtually ever consultant I’ve ever encountered actually has a larger “playing field” than he or she acknowledges. The larger your buyer “universe” the more opportunity to make a sale. And that universe includes both number of buyers and appealing to any single buyer’s total gamut of needs (or your ability to create need).

If you are an expert, for example, in communications skills, it seems to me you are able to consult in these areas: listening effectively, media relations, branding, conflict resolution, negotiating, customer relations, union relations, employee morale, marketing techniques, shareholder inclusion, and so on. But if the only tool in your toolkit is a three-day communications audit or a workshop on presentation skills, then you might as well get a day job, because you’re not going to become wealthy in this profession.

If there’s nothing on the ground, fly up to the feeder. If there’s nothing there, try a different yard. If there’s nothing there, steal something from a squirrel. You’ll find the squirrels in human resources.

© Alan Weiss 2007. All rights reserved.

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