Sunday, 11 December 2011

Consulting Tools, Skills and Basketball

It occurred to me recently that when Consultants list out the tools that they use, or unfortunately the only tool that they use (thinking everything looks like a nail when you only have a hammer..), that Skills should have greater profile.

The real key to whether you can use a tool is when the pressure is on, the client has an urgent or critical problem, the room is lost, the way forward unclear. The ability to deploy a tool or technique in a training situation bears no relation to that test.

Which brings me to basketball. Years ago when my children were young, I attended the annual Parents/Award Giving at my son's Basketball club. As the parents gathered on benches at the back of the gym, a tall stately, elderly gentleman walked in with his grandson. After the coach had presented awards and reviewed the year, the guest speaker was revealed. You guessed it, the Granddad.

He was an ex England national player from the '50's. He spoke eloquently about the need for the kids to practise their basic skills, until they could ALWAYS make that shot in the dying seconds of a match. As he said all this he had in his hands a basketball. He had done nothing with it throughout his time in the gym, but as he closed his speech, he said" You have to know you can make the shot", and as he said it threw a shot to a Basket, 5 metres away...

Now if he had fluffed that shot, his speech was a disaster, but of course he didn't...

Can we always use our tools, techniques and personal interventions with that sort of skill? Thats what the client wants... skills not just tools.

Happy Christmas!
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