i iz in ur company providin’ consultancy

I guess it’s fairly obvious, but if you are used to thinking about specific subjects, then you’ll find it easier to navigate the issues. What is less obvious is that this is the yin of a consultant’s value-add; the yang being their specialist knowledge.

Teh Blak Kitteh

Teh Blak Kitteh

I have two concrete examples for you. This little cutie-pie is a stray we have been calling Teh Blak Kitteh for the last four years. He’d come in, wolf down food, gaze soulfully around the kitchen like a Victorian waif ‘oo knows all this warmf an’ lovliness ain’t fer the loikes of ‘er, and then disappear off into the night. He’d run away immediately if I stood up. Poor little blak kitteh.

Anyhoo,  a fortnight ago he hobbled into the kitchen unable to put his visibly swollen back leg to the ground. This was the point where – if I was used to the subject of how to deal with injured strays – I would have called one of the rescue organisations. Instead I dithered for a week or so before calling the RSPCA who lent me a trap. I didn’t even know there were such things as cat-traps, though it’s pretty obvious really. And that’s my point. Animal welfare isn’t my area so I made an elementary mistake and left it a week, and as a result he ended up with septic arthritis and permanent damage to the joints.

My second example is – quite literally – more concrete. The parents of a friend bought a house as an investment property and it’s been like a painful episode of Property Ladder without the pleasure of Sarah Beany. The house is irredeemably damp and had no heating, it has an eye-wateringly small kitchen and you have to walk through one of the bedrooms to get to the bathroom. They’ve agonised about these problems and come  up with solutions that have made things worse not better, like buying the house in the first place. They aren’t stupid, just inexperienced: they’ve never actually owned a house before let alone sold one.

It’s annoying when you hire consultants to end up paying for common sense (don’t ignore the problem, call the RSPCA; don’t install electric storage heaters against the interior walls, install gas central heating with radiators under the windows). But common sense isn’t that common really, and if it’s not your area you won’t be familiar with the issues and how they affect each other. You do need advice, and there’s no shame there.

Teh Blak Kitteh, incidentally, is doing fabulously. I took him to the local vet myself rather than entrusting him to the RSPCA and he spends his days sleeping, flirting with the nurses and gulping down food mixed with meds. He goes to a new home with some very patient friends later this week.


4 responses to “i iz in ur company providin’ consultancy

  1. I’ve noticed just recently how much easier it is to do an Audit than it used to me. My last Audit wasn’t much effort and did what it was supposed to very easily.

    In comparison the first one was a elongated trauma..

    The activity didn’t change – but the thinking got easier.

  2. If the task is trully SIMPLE, then anyone can have a stab at it. Something like painting a wall with emulsion would come into this category.

    If the task is COMPLICATED like plastering a wall, then the difference an expert will make is significant.

    So far, fairly obvious and intuitive. Let’s now move onto COMPLEX problems. Examples include: “bringing up a child”, “making a go of a marriage”, “running a hospital”, “Afghanistan”. These problems differ from the simple and compicated ones in that it is not possible even to define fully what the problem is, at the outset.

    For these problems, having experts is necessary but not sufficient. Curiously, amateurs are needed as well to provide intuition on the one hand and down-to-earth commonsense on the other. This is why companies need non-executives and chairmen; why lay members are needed on committees. The alternative, of leaving it all to the technocrats, does not work in situations where the plan is only written by historians years after the event.

    Cats are pretty complex too — your moggy needed the vet for technical support, but it needed you for your caring over the years, every bit as much.

  3. Z, you are right, the difficulties of doing anything you are unfamiliar with are almost impossible to imagine when you are competent. It’s one of the most frustrating things about the student – teacher dynamic.

    Daniel, I should have replied to this much earlier. It’s a thought-provoking comment you’ve posted there. I knew all that, but could not have articulated it. I am fascinated by your view that you need fresh-faced amateurs as well as jaded professionals.

    The cat, incidentally, is thriving in his new home, and cuddling up to his new slave like a cheap date. She’s his best mate she is.

    Cheers both.


  4. Long time reader / 1st time poster. Really enjoy reading the blog, keep up the excellent work. Will most definitely start posting more in the near future.

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