Once upon a time I was a designer. During the last five years I became a consultant. Not by design, it just sort of happened. The transition was easy, so it feels right. But I didn’t plan it. Which is why this Joseph Cambell quote gave me a jolt:
We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
Leading up to McKinsey I worked at Capgemini and Deloitte Digital. When I started out I had a vision of being a freelance designer working on my own. How I ended up working at these iconic companies is still a mystery to me. But there is a significance here that I need to understand and respect. Because now I’m joining the most iconic Firm of them all.
The trick is to stay in charge of your own destiny, and based on my experience at big consulting firms, if you wait for things to happen then you’re not going to get far, you must take action to make things happen. For an inward looking designer like me this has been the hardest transition to make.
If we cut loose old baggage new opportunities await us–I have no proof that this is not so. I’m excited when I think about what could happen next. But there are new things I must learn. Most importantly I must relearn what design is all about so that I can become a better designer. And I need to understand and internalise what consulting means for a designer in 2016: A good designer is someone who can improve a situation, and a good consultant is someone who thinks more about a client’s problem than the client themselves, the result of which helps the client to make improvements.
A long time ago when I was a working holiday maker in London I worked as a cycle courier for a time. It is the most extreme work I’ve ever done. But what I learnt was that no matter how bad a day was, when the next day started at 8 am there was a clean slate before me. Yesterday was forgotten. It’s a new day and anything could happen. And it usually did.