Doing the right thing – integrity in consulting
We asked Eric Nelson to take us along his journey to becoming one of Logic20/20’s top consultants. What advice does he have after reaching 10 years in the ever-evolving technology consulting industry?
The playbook isn’t written for consulting. When I became a consultant, a little over 10 years ago now, I had no prior consulting experience. As it turns out, I had the right exposure, temperament, and support system at Logic20/20 to make consulting a natural fit.
When I graduated from college, my friends launched a small startup in Tucson, Arizona. We worked for several small companies in the area, delivering custom web apps, technical solutions, process optimization, and line-of-business applications. The work was challenging enough but also fun–we were running with the experience we had gotten in undergrad, stretching our legs, and seeing what we could do.
For tech-heavy projects, we kept in touch with our college friends who were developers; they were eager to work for us and to build out their portfolios. Looking back, that business model had been a lot like consulting, even though that’s not how we ever talked about it.
I later moved to the West Coast and eventually to Seattle, diving into the digital advertising world. I had the opportunity to work directly with clients and partner with our sales leaders–effectively laying the foundation for what would become a successful career in consulting.
In 2010, I landed at Logic20/20 by way of a recommendation from a friend and as soon as I finished my first project, I knew I had found a role and company that fit me. I’ve now spent the last decade of my career growing and supporting most parts of the business, constantly being challenged, and trying new things. The focus on delivering great work and solving client challenges–and using that partnership to grow business–is what brings me so much joy. Every day is a new chance to tell stories, to build something innovative, and occasionally, I enjoy a round of golf with clients who have become friends.
Logic20/20 fit and getting it right
When I joined, Logic20/20 operated in much the same way as my team in Tucson did all those years ago. My team members were resourceful, curious, and all about collaboration. It was very much a “let’s see what we can do” environment. We were tackling complex business problems with a focus on learning more about our customers upfront. That deeper understanding helped us build the right solution for each client’s actual need. Our success was seated in our determination and optimistic attitude of “we’re going to give it our best shot and have fun doing it.
To this day, that’s still a great representation of the company’s values; we’ve all built a solid foundation of knowledge, but we’re always learning and keen to deliver the best solution possible. The diversity of our consultants–all of us coming from different backgrounds, countries, and experiences–helps to inform and approve the work that we do. We’re not the same, but our values are.
My all-time favorite project captures all the scrappy “get it done” energy that I love about my role. After delivering my very first project with Logic20/20, I had expected to have a nice, quiet time on “the bench”, working on internal initiatives and getting to know more of the people in the firm before my next engagement started. That relaxed feeling lasted right up until the phone rang that night. It was my supervisor telling me to be at a new location bright and early the next morning to take on a project that was completely sideways.
That day, I joined my team in our new “war room.” We were charged with turning the project around and delivering the intended solution. The other lead on the project had a passion for consulting, a master’s degree in English, and a background in teaching. It was his very first project (and my second). Collectively, we had no idea how we were going to solve the challenge in front of us. That opportunity for creativity and teamwork is what I love about consulting. No one hands you a perfect package and tells you how to do it, you are on the ground and sorting it out until you get it right.
The ownership mentality
My favorite part of consulting at Logic20/20 is ownership. You are the owner–of your project, your practice area, and your part in the overall business trajectory. Logic20/20’s encouragement of the ownership mentality means I have been able to grasp opportunities and perceive changes that have ultimately led to the success of projects (all in an absence of micromanagement or minutiae). There was no playbook, and that’s what begets opportunity. A consultant needs to feel that sense of ownership to be successful.
Logic20/20 also builds relationships with clients that prioritize partnership. It’s that same sense of “not the same as me, but the same values as me.” That trust and partnership allow us to build more effective solutions, together.
“The playbook isn’t written. Yes, we have this wonderful career model, but it’s not a checklist you complete and then you’ll be promoted at the end of the year. You have to be a self-starter. Nothing is handed to you. There is no playbook, and that is what begets opportunity.”
Advice for new consultants
The first two weeks on a project are the most important. People look at a project delivery schedule and think they have all this time. They don’t. But if you nail those first two weeks, you build credibility that is going to serve you later. Use that time to build trust with the client and make sure you understand why they’re partnering with Logic20/20.
“The classic mistake, when you’re looking at a project plan, is thinking you have time. If you nail those first two weeks, you build the credibility for later. You build trust with the client that you’re going to help them, and you get to have deeper conversations and uncover their needs. And if you do it right, you can figure out what those next three things are that could become new projects.”
Here are a few questions that can help you achieve understanding:
• Why is the project defined a certain way?
• Why do they need this assessment?
• Why do they need this project manager?
• What is their end goal?
This will lead to deeper conversations and uncover what is driving the client. You’ll achieve better understanding and in doing so, determine what other projects should be next. And if you get it right, and you deliver, the relationship will flourish.
“There’s the project they bought, the project they wanted, and the project they needed. Those three things are never the same. The job of the consultant is to work through those layers.”
When I look back over the last 10 years, what stands out to me are the relationships we have developed. At Logic20/20, we work from a set of values that creates a supportive environment for relationship-building. We deliver what we can stand behind, and it is this ethos that keeps relationships strong.