I consider myself a valuable human being. A trove of all the knowledge I acquired, through lessons from my parents, teachers and collaboration with my colleagues. So when a clever professor stated some time ago that all knowledge has an expiration date, that was a pretty big blow for me.
Worse still: the knowledge that I have NOW will apparently turn out to be completely useless within 3 years. This got me thinking: what does this mean for my profession? Consultancy is my trade, but will it continue to be seen that way? Read about my quest and the reassuring conclusion for real consultants below.
“There is always enough time to be too late…”
It took 75 years before the telephone reached 50 million users. The Pokémon Go app reached that same amount in a mere 5 days. We live in a digital age where change takes place at the speed of light. The expectation is that 2-3 million jobs will be digitized by 2025*. I experience the impact of these changes in the conversations I have with my clients. Not a single company closes its eyes to the digital transformation that is needed. But what does this all mean for employees and the sustainability of our knowledge?
Your perception determines your value
Value is often expressed in terms of money. Is the customer willing to pay for your service?
But value is actually perception. The proof for this statement is all around. Take crowdfunding for example. The principle: I have an idea that I share online. Other people like the idea as well and they take the risk to invest. This way, the idea belongs to all of us. We all gain ownership. Even more important than the money that I invest is the feeling that I get when I contribute to an idea that I support. Recognize any of this?
My neighbor has become a consultant too
Very recently I spoke to my neighbor, who has become her own boss after a year of working for a consultancy firm. Call it a long internship. She now works as an independent consultant for very large and serious companies. Is that possible? Yes, yes it is. The value of advice appears to be fleeting. Something that is hard-gained for some, is quickly practiced by others. I wonder — is consultancy still an acknowledged trade or is it more of a ‘euphoria’? A temporary state of fulfillment, where anybody can be consultant for a day?
As a psychologist, I’ve had to demonstrate quite a bit of stamina to get to the bottom of many acknowledged theories on the human psyche. And I use those insights on a regular basis in my work, much more than I had ever thought as a student. So studying the sciences definitely adds value to your work. Take Newton’s law of motion**:
F = ma
Where F stands for force, m stands for mass and a for acceleration. Loosely translated: the force or power (of advice, for example) is determined by the speed at which the mass accepts it. The same goes for companies. Sustainable change takes place as soon as there are more believers than naysayers. Psychology teaches us that people are naturally programmed to resist change (the status quo bias ***). We tend to use the current situation as a starting point, and all change is seen as a loss. Consequence? We’d rather stay where we are, than move forward.
So how do I move the mass(es)?
The answer does not lie in technology, but in people and their beliefs. In what they perceive to be right or wrong. What does or doesn’t work. And beliefs hold power, so much so that entire religions have been built on them. To challenge and work with those beliefs, that is the profession of consultants. That is what makes it a trade. And it’s one that I’m proud of!
* Source: Citi GPS, Technology at Work (2015); Dobs, No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends (2016)
Frijke is General Director and Consultant at Motion5. She has been supporting international companies in sustainable change processes for the last 10 years. She specializes in health care, working with both health insurance companies, non-profit institutions and MedTech companies. In addition, she is an organizational psychologist and she has researched the power of beliefs and how they affect setting individuals in motion in a sustainable way.