There are lots of runners up for the project that taught me the most about my business. Seriously.
That said, my five months with the staff and board of the Valentine Richmond History Center involved schooling on so many levels.
Here’s a recipe for learning.
It starts with a new consultant – one who’s a little wet behind the ears but works hard not to let everyone know. (That'd be me.)
Put the new guy in the room with some incredibly smart people – the staff and board of the Valentine, for instance. Invite more smart people – technologist Chris Busse, educational/learning expert Richard Sebastian, and so on – to be part of the conversation. Accelerate.
Believe me. I learned tons – about Richmond history, about trends in technology and learning, about strategic planning.
Mostly, though, I learned how to be a better consultant. (I can safely say this is an outcome of almost every client engagement.)
In the best of times, my most important job is to ask good questions, listen deeply, connect dots, help people see patterns, push people to see more deeply. It’s not to be the expert on the organization, or to write their strategic plan.
(I’m still learning, by the way.)
I mark my time with the Valentine Richmond History Center team as my fastest learning curve because it taught me so many lessons about the work Floricane seeks to do. It also happened as I was trying to clarify my business model.
The lessons I took away from the Valentine's strategic planning process remain a yardstick with which I continue to measure our success with other clients.
Don’t get me wrong – I think we did good work with the Valentine’s strategic plan, and the leadership there uses the plan as a platform for effective leadership and decision making. We’re even having a reunion of sorts in January, when they bring me back to check in on their progress.
But sometimes the best good work is work-in-progress. If the Floricane team can continue to learn from our work with clients, we'll be doing our best good work.
Thanks for the lessons, Richmond History Center.