The soloist

I have had a gift: I am a great soloist.
That’s not the gift; the gift is that when playing with others, I am good too and sometimes I am able to create great “improvisations” that, when followed by others, lead to great performances.
That has been a really good trait when I joined consulting; in fact I started with a small company and I was the first of few others in a brand new client environment.
Sort of a start up opportunity. Great times guys.
The consulting firm rapidly grew and a few years later joined a big consulting corporate; I became part of a big international orchestra.
Between me and the Director, several lines of chairs had been added.
I have been given a score (a “partitura”), that should be absolutely and mandatory followed. They called it Company Processes.
Of course, playing for a big International and well established orchestra is much much safer.
Are you sick or not at your best one day? Never mind. And you can be invited to play in theatres you’d never venture to imagine before.
But.
What about your nature of soloist player? That could become a potential issue for you now.
Think for a moment about that: when your mind spawns a quite lovely and powerful business idea, you have two choices: go with it, or ask your boss before.
Several people I met in my life always cried about that: “Damn, if only I hadn’t to ask my boss”.
I often discovered that they were using the “ask the boss” as an “excuse” because they got stuck in the responsibility crossroad. Should I go or should I ask?
Big firms don’t like players who don’t ask. They create processes so that you must ask for almost everything. And when you have to ask, options spread and things got stuck.
Consider this example. I wrote my boss to open a purchase order procedure so that one of my perimeter consultants could have his jurassic notebook replaced.
Well, instead of writing “please go buying a new notebook” he unfortunately added an option: “..or check if a RAM upgrade is sufficient”. Giving an option to the IT department led the procedure to stuck.
The IT guy have been forced to take responsibility for a decision.
Sometimes you are lucky and the IT guy is a soloist able to autonomously decide, but as part of a big orchstra with processes, he probaly chose the “ask the boss” path, and the procedure got paralized.
Now let’s go back to corporates and soloists: can these players resist in structured environment? And how should they behave?
Well, I believe there are two options. If you decide for the “ask the boss” safe approach, then you should stuck with it. Do always ask. Always. Never forget to do it.
But if you choose to be a free rider, then never alternate the approach, go always straight on your path, without hesitation.
If you fail, you’ll be kindly invited to leave the company. That’s the risk.
But believe me, showing you are able to decide and make choices is the only way to move forward, closer to where the Director is.
Make your choice then. Good luck.

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