Retrospective Facilitator Gathering

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tu3.1

2012_results

Pros and cons of focus vs. breadth in independent consulting

Attendees: Aino Corry, Charlotte Malther, Linda Rising, Lisbeth Kjellberg, Marc Bless…

Our goal with this session was to share experiences as independent consultants with the choice between focus and breadth in the services you choose to create, develop, and market. (for the conclusion, jump to end of page :-)

We used post-it notes on flip-charts to get input from the attendees. First we had two posters; one about focus, and one about breadth. On each poster, we could place red/green/yellow post.it.notes. The red were the cons about the subject, the green were the pros, and the yellow were what we didn't know how to label.

Pros and cons of focus

Pros

expert status, get things done, easy to create and keep identity, respect, authority, deep understanding, make a real contribution, easy to explain to client, expected by customers, easier to deliver high quality, see the hole ☺

Maybe

when to change focus, more difficult as you get older, how deep is your love?, coaching value, How do you choose what to focus on?, more likely to distorted worl d view.

Cons

depending on other focused experts, silos us vs. Them, risky (blind spot), market for this focus disappears, golden hammer, risk of narrowmindedness, dangerous when hype is over, boredom, local optimization, perceived in one role.

Pros and cons of breadth

Pros

you never know where you will find what you want, you’re open to more opportunities, not easily bored, resilient to market change, great for learning, expected by customers, can see associations that can cross-pollute, see the whole.

Maybe

possible? To what extent?, when to stop consulting due to low level of knowledge, information overload know nothing about everything, is it ok not to be an expert? , consulting value, need strong networks,

Cons

Shallow, what exactly do you offer?, difficult to market difficult to explain to my clients, difficult to inform on new services, they tend to hide, clients may have a hard time believing the breadth, risky (to slow), unclear comunication and marketing, hard to know if you can help, hard to become an expert, hard to know where to develop yourself

Change of scene

Now we moved to another set of posters, where we tried to get ideas for how to act with regard to marketing, sales and self-development, when you are in focus-oriented, or breadth-oriented consulting. We discovered that we needed another poster allowing for things that would work for both focus-areas.

Ideas for keeping focus-oriented independent consulting

Marketing

write articles/posts on specific/focused platforms/mags/blogs, tweet on your focus, market your skills, attend or organise user groups, often news and new aspect,

Sales

sales up vertical (in the same domain), results-focused

Self-development

go to the conferences that are specific, keep up to date, read all you can, be non-focused at times, read books and articles

Ideas for keeping breadth in independent consulting

Marketing

have many conversations, market relationships, very up to date marketing on all services,

Sales

sales horisontally (over domains), sell solutions, not skills, time to result-based, get involved by others,

Self-development

don’t be afraid to read or learn anything, go to the conferences that are general, be focused at times, read MANY books and articles, focus on 1 thing at a time.

Ideas for both kinds of consulting

Marketing

speak at conferences, short vs. Long-term perspective, write an article, focus on customer delight

Sales

Partners, sales person, band together with others

Self-development

go beyond your comfort zone, do the ”other” thing (focus/breadth), play with constraints

Conclusion

Of course there was no conclusion :-) But what some took away from this was that even if we choose to be broad in the services we offer, we need to focus our self-development from time to time, and dedicate some time to each of the services we offer. If possible, find an umbrella that covers all your services and market and sell that. Also, expect that the world changes, so even if you choose to focus, you will need to be aware what is happening around you, and able to change your focus.

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