Blog Archives

Generalist or Consultant -who are you?

I’ve spent my professional life picking up and delivering skills in various technologies and in general business management and marketing. I’ve enjoyed just about everything I’ve done and I consider that I have a mix of very valuable skills. Unfortunately the market doesn’t see it this way. Here’s my take on the problem.

Picture of GP

GP or Consultant

Imagine you’ve got a niggling headache, or your knee collapses occasionally. Maybe you get the occasional pain in the stomach. What do you do?
Unless the symptoms are concerned with your eyes or your teeth – you probably go and see your family doctor, your GP: a Generalist.

Your GP has been trained in a wide range of diagnostic skills and is focused on you the patient. She’s not only interested in your bones, your bowels and your brain; she is interested in the whole you.

Hopefully, she will use her skills to diagnose a likely root cause. She may refer you for tests at the local hospital but the results will come back to her. Unless the solution requires deeper expertise in a specific area, she will either treat you herself, or she will refer you to another healthcare practitioner like a physiotherapist. Only if the problem requires deeper investigation outside of her area of competence will she refer you to a consultant.

Being a Generalist requires somebody who has a wide range of diagnostic and problem solving skills that can be applied almost everywhere in the field of human medicine. Translate that requirement to the needs of small businesses and you have me!

I am a Generalist

My background, and my generally inquisitive nature, means that I am ideally suited to the role of being a Generalist. I’ve worked in organisations of all sizes and fulfilled most roles in them at one time or another. My initial focus was engineering; specifically communications. I designed hardware and software for communications products of various types. During this phase I built up deep expertise in software engineering principles, but I was also building skills in project and people management and learning valuable marketing and commercial skills.

After leaving full-time employment in 1988, I spent several years exploiting my skills; primarily as a communications consultant (see, I was called a consultant because I knew a lot about a little).

Once I, and others, created our first business in 1991, I restarted the process of acquiring new technical and business skills: skills needed to grow a small business and generate profitable revenue. I continued doing this for the next 20 years until I finally started working solely for myself.

At that point I needed to decide: was I a consultant? and if so, in what field? If I wasn’t a consultant, who was I?

I have enjoyed so many aspects of the work I’ve done over the years, but the common factor that links them all was the need to solve a problem. I do have deep skills in a number of areas, but I enjoy my focus being broader. I don’t want to focus on a small subset of the skills I’ve acquired over the years, I want to deploy them all. I am the archetypal Generalist.

Who are you?

So, thats’ who I am. Who are you?

Could Fax be ready for a comeback?

This is slightly tongue in cheek, but what if the proposed hike in postal rates here in the UK were to encourage a move back to Fax for some classes of traffic?

Sometimes, you really do want a paper copy of a document to be sent. Possibly it must have a signature, or you are returning a form.

Assuming you had a paper document, you’ll have to pay £0.60 for the stamp and £0.03 for the envelope. Let’s ignore labour.

If you faxed the document, you’d pay maybe £0.05 for the telephone call?

What do you think?