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.

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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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