Solution Broker: The Cloud Edition

Mirror in the cloud

Some months ago I contemplated about the often asked question: "What are you doing at the moment?". Consequently I summarized my activities as being that of a solution broker: offering a possible solution to an opportunity or for a problem. But what about the format of offering this brokerage? Traditional per hour paid business consultant? Or are there more effective ways of offering solutions?

The traditional way to resolve a problem or address an opportunity was to hire a consultant, wait for the outcome of the analysis and, assuming the conclusion was acceptable, start implementing the suggested solution. Some obvious issues did arise, like the fact that the consultant was long gone when implementation was executed (by a different party). Original objectives and actual implementation as a results were often only "distant relatives". Resolving this by hiring the same consultant to do the implementation sometimes helped but left the nagging feeling of "was this our solution?. Also the costs and time involved with the analysis were a hurdle to overcome: getting an outsider to understand the dynamics surrounding an issue will take time. Off course other less tangible but non the less important phenomena also can play a role, positive or negative, to the success of a solution finding process. We have probably all seen batteling comments like "Not-invented-here" vs "Fresh outside view", "We knew this all along" vs "The value of a second opinion" and "A waist of time, space and money" vs "A logical in insurance premium".

But why not turn the whole solution process around to make it far stronger? Business executives often have the solution in the back of their minds already or if given a hint can directly grasp the downstream impact of a new idea. From my coaching experience I know that a combination of questioning, mirroring and out-of-the-box thinking can tremendously help a senior manager to make their own choices and carry them forward into their own solution. So why is this seemingly logical model only limited applied?

First of all having or investing in a coach is not yet that commonly accepted in business. Weird because in sports top athletes will always have (multiple) coaches. In business it is regarded too often as a weakness to involve a coach: "a C-level executive should be able to do it without". Also most of the time a coach is only hired when the individual "obviously needs help". Pro-active involvement of a professional coach as an extension of the individuals capabilities is still not widely found. 

Secondly one always needs the answer "now". Meaning there is not (much) time to look for a coach, let alone room for a HR or whatever process to find one. Instant coaching is required but since coaching requires trust and confidence between the coach and coached, the relationship should be established already. And thus immediately running into the above described need for pro-active investment. A typical catch 22 or is there an alternative?

What if there would be an option for an on-demand coach? Probably not a person that you have had the chance to get to know before but at least an accessible alternative. Off course under absolute confidentiality and with an agenda to focus only on the here-and-now. But most important with both the seniority and empathy that allows for a quick mutual understanding. With the advantage that location and time have no impact in this model and things like video conferencing can support the communication dynamics. Costs are transparent: a price per consult; a contract is simple established by email.

So as of today I will also present myself as Solution Broker in the Cloud: if you want my opinion or advice, I'm out there for you. Just send me a mail and we will start to engage in driving to the solutions you need.

Hans van Nes

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