“Dad…what do you do at work?”

what do you doSo I had a fabulous conversation with one of my (excellent) colleagues. Let’s call him (or her 🙂 ) ‘Bob’.

His 10 year old son keeps on asking him what he does at work…and Bob keeps on trying to explain!

Just as an aside: For those of you that work in the ‘improvement’ arena (sorry, I know that’s a crap phrase), here’s an excellent comedy sketch showing a father/ son ‘what do you do?’ interaction on the rather painful subject of Six Sigma:

The ‘what does your dad do’ assignment (It’s 6 mins. long)

Now, Bob and I work in the role of ‘Business Consultant’ within a large organisation….or at least that’s what it says on our email signatures.

…and, given that we are trying to educate the organisation away from an ‘implementing tools and techniques’ mentality and towards a ‘change management’s thinking and behaviours’ world, the “what do you do?” question is perhaps even harder!

Here’s Bob’s first attempt at explaining what he does to his son:

Son: “So, Dad, what do you buy/ make/ solve/ ….[insert list of value-adding words that any citizen would recognise]?”

Bob: “Well son, I don’t do any of those things. I try to help people do those things better.”

Son: “So you tell them what to do!”

Bob: “Well, no, I try to help people work out for themselves how they could do things better.”

Son: “Nope, you’ve lost me there – still don’t understand what you do….”

Okay, so he didn’t buy that one, so here’s the following weeks’ conversation:

Son: “…so back to that question”

Bob: “Well, I am called in to help people solve what they perceive to be their problems but I try to get them to see root causes…but they don’t really like this because the root causes are usually outside their control and my advice won’t help them to meet their short term targets around silo’d business objectives.”

Son: “Erm, so they ask for your help…but they don’t like what you say?”

Hmmm, perhaps there’s an element of truth in that. Here’s the 3rd (and final) round between Bob and his son:

Son: “…so then what happens?”

Bob: “…so I try to get them to explore what is behind what I have explained/opened up to them…I try to get them to see (for themselves) the system conditions that are causing them to behave in the ways that they are.”

Son: “…Oh, so you just confuse and frustrate people?!”

And so where did that leave his son? Well, next time Bob heard his son verbalise his work role, here’s what came out:

My dad’s a ‘Business Insultant’


Now, what’s even better is that I entered ‘Business Insultant’ into Google and, without expecting anything back, came up with an article explaining it as a specific term …which sort of fits with the above…and loosely fits with what I attempt to do/ be.

Who knew! (except Bob’s son of course).


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