If I have seen one change during my career at Accenture, it would be the way consulting has become less about being analytical and more about being creative.
It’s about client communication. Articulating a business case. Sharing the bigger picture. Making the complex simple.
And that’s convinced me of one thing: The best consultants are those who are also real storytellers.
Which suits me perfectly. I consider myself highly creative. But I’m also honest and direct. That’s important. You can’t sell a project to a client by pretending to be someone else.
I’m in the right place at Accenture. I can express my creativity and live my values—and I always feel valued for who I truly am.
Taking the bubble approach
A few years ago, when I was part of Accenture Interactive, we had to present a proposal for a digital transformation to a very conservative client. It was complex, and the usual approach would be a 100-slide presentation deck, because that was what the client was used to.
I suggested something more radical: a bubble approach.
One core bubble, four bubbles surrounding that, 10 bubbles around those to show the roadmap. On just 10 slides. Others were skeptical, but I stuck to my beliefs and won the day. Later, this client told me they had adopted my bubble approach!
I was bringing simplification to a sea of complication.
That’s a part of my job I really enjoy. I write flash fiction, or “micro stories,” in my spare time. With these, you get to the point. It forces you to simplify everything. And I’m a true believer that simple is smart.
We embrace design thinking to get the story. We articulate what we want to achieve, why we are doing what we’re doing. Then, we often use a set of metaphors to get to the point.
Using metaphors makes the whole story easier to understand. If the story is good, my clients should understand what I’m trying to explain. We always start with the final outcome. Why are we doing this? What are we trying to achieve? What is the client expecting from us? What is success for them and how can we measure it?
In this process, it’s “we” all around. Working hand in hand gets us way further and quicker (and it can be a lot more fun, too).
A current client is asking us to help build their way forward for a digital transformation. So, we’re using the metaphor of a mountain to be climbed from different slopes, as well as the grounds, and flowing the whole story around that. The way to the top, the speed and the path, are symbols of the potential to grow and the paths ahead.
Creative brainstorming, with or without the metaphors, is an increasingly important skill of a successful consultant.
I remember another presentation to a client, answering questions about mobile apps. Mobiles are true gateways, and a sort of windows to a world of possibilities. We called one of our partner companies that specializes in this, and in the end, we had 10 people in a room brainstorming for a week.
People from a range of teams and countries, coming up with the strategy and creating a story about what the apps would look like—it’s like writing a book together.
Blending my work and life passions
I love literature and in addition to writing, I’m an avid reader and take inspiration from short stories. I’ve looked at how short-story writers start off with a structure, take you on a journey and kill the story at the right point. I’ve taken this approach with work projects. It’s definitely made me a better consultant.
It’s easy when you have the best people around, all working together to arrive at the best solutions, for each other and ourselves. That’s what is all about and what I value the most.
Life happens everywhere and I’m truly and happily balancing work, my three kids and family life and my creative interests. You just have to stay true at what you love doing and never stop chasing your dreams. The rest will follow naturally.
Read more about a typical day in my life and my advice for building a career in consulting.
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