Archive for January, 2015

Valderrama: Model Consultant

carlos-valderrama-new-pink-curly-hairEven people who are not  soccer fans probably recognize this guy. For those who recognize his hair but not his name it is Carlos Valderrama.  And yes, his play was as impressive as his hair but not in the way you might expect.  In fact few may realize just what made him such a great soccer player and a model for consultants.

Valderrama scored relatively few goals (16) for a midfielder, but is the MLS league’s second all-time leader in assists (114) after Steve Ralston (121), a former teammate. In 2005, he was named to the MLS All-Time Best XI. He was also named one of the top players of the 20th century by Pelé in 1999.[9]. In 2000 Valderrama recorded the only 20+ assist season in MLS history—ending the season with 26—a record that remains intact today, and which MLS itself suggested was an “unbreakable” record in a 2012 article.[10].

Aside from his skill in holding the ball,  those who watched him will remember that he stationed himself at the center of the attack but frequently had his back to the opposing goal.  At first glance this seemed odd , but close inspection made it clear why he did it.  He is arguably the greatest play maker in the game.  He was constantly watching the movement of the players so that he could (and frequently did) make the perfect pass to a teammate who usually scored.  The most impressive example was in the 1990 World cup match against Germany where Columbia needed a tie to move to the next round. Germany scored in the 88th minute and it looked bleak for Columbia.  With only seconds remaining in extra time Valderrama delivered  a perfectly executed pass to Freddy Rincon who scored to tie the game.

To me he is the model for good consulting.  He was constantly watching the field like a good quarterback in football, looking for the opportunity.  When he saw it, he delivered the perfect pass that created opportunities for his team to win.

As consultants we are hired to see what might be hard for a client to see;  to see a way through challenges and obstacles and deliver solutions (sometimes in sudden death overtime) so the client can be successful.

If you are a consultant, I would not recommend a hairstyle change, but Valderrama is worth imitating.

New Year

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I am growing tired of the plethora of articles elucidating the 3, 5, 10 easy steps to getting yourself smarter, better, stronger, faster, more organized, richer, happier… Sure,  given the hackneyed New Years resolution rituals we engage in, it is understandable.  But really, given all the news stories indicating we will all fail on these resolutions I am not sure why anyone feels compelled to write about it.

I have come to a realization recently.  The one thing I try to do (and it is not a resolution) is to spend 20 minutes early in the day reading poetry.  Yep… I said it…   POETRY.  There could not be a more useless activity to engage in.  It is like an anti-resolution.   Sure it is an activity, but it is not a list packed with all of the frenetic anxiety of hurrying to get something done.

Why do I do this?   It acts like a physical exam for me.  It makes me slow down, and pay attention to things I routinely overlook.  I know my state of mind immediately.

One of the other utilitarian benefits is that it makes me think in analogies and similes.  Being able to use these in interactions with others has proven to be one of the most powerful communication tools available and it exercises my imagination which is the only way I have successfully solved any problem.

I am not suggesting to anyone that they go out and buy an anthology of poetry. I am sure that most are as sick of being told what to do at this time of year as I am.  But if it makes you curious,  go to the library and check out this book ; I never liked poetry until I read it.  Want to dive right in? Try this which should, if you are healthy, make you laugh. Or, if you want something to think about, this  he like (T.S. Eliot) was a business executive, living in the real world in addition to being a poet laureate.

When I am trying to gather my thoughts and plans for the new year this is the poem I read.  It helps me focus on the why more than the what.

THE GOLDFISH FLOATS TO THE TOP OF HIS LIFE
by Ted Kooser

The goldfish floats to the top of his life
and turns over, a shaving from somebody’s hobby.
So it is that men die at the whims of great companies,
their neckties pulling them slumped in the shower,
their hearts blown open like boiler doors.
In the night, again and again these men float
to the tops of their dreams to drift back
to their desks in the morning.  If you ask them,
they would prefer to have died in their sleep.


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Dan Clark

Dan Clark

Principal of Bowline Consulting, process designer/fixer, wireless telecom veteran, addicted pick up soccer player, fly fisher, backpacker, beer brewer, guitar player, choir singer, recovering bag piper

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