I finished the year taking incredible pride in sustaining my writing last year. I pretty much kept on schedule, and I was fairly pleased with what I wrote, as well.
Then 2022 starts, and I am writing my very first post of the year perilously close to the end of January. This is mostly by design.
Last year was a year of taking stock of where I am, and where I’m going—and a little bit of how I got here. For many, 2021 was a year of disruption and difficulty. That is no less true on my end of things. As I’ve mentioned previously, I had a significant project conclude (on schedule) just as the pandemic started. I have seen less work than I would have liked to since then.
My decline in consulting work got displaced with focused attention in other areas. I piloted and then built Strategy Making. I spent time working on a redesign of my web sites. I have been able to get projects done that have been on my wish list for a great deal of time. I wrote consistently here. I started writing for Municipal World on a regular basis, and I continue to write and do an ongoing webinar series for projectmanagement.com.
I have also embraced some steep learning curves in a number of areas making that happen. This has helped me step back and appreciate that while the world continues to evolve, I may have run the risk of complacency. I’ve been doing many of the same things over and over again, expecting a different outcome.
None of this is to complain. It is to observe the reality of where I am. For me, finding work has always been about word of mouth. Direct sales doesn’t work. Picking up the phone and making even targetted calls of, “Hey, do you want to buy some consulting?” are not known for delivering results. It is, in fact, as disastrous an approach as you can imagine. The conversations that do work are when a prospective client has a problem that I can help them with. Those aren’t sales discussions; they are dialogues in problem solving. They happen best when someone refers me with a recommendation of, “Mark’s the best person to help you with that.”
It’s not that some level of presence in the marketplace isn’t required. It is just that there is no direct link between promotional effort on one hand and business development on the other. If you aren’t visible, you don’t tend to get noticed, and work tapers off as a consequence. Within visibility comes attention and, eventually, work. Effort is required in one area for activity in another, but you can rarely point to this specific opportunity being a result of this specific marketing effort.
All of this is to say that while I’ve been highly visible in specific areas, there are aspects of it that have become dangerously close to routine. I’ve had a monthly column with projectmanagement.com for more than two decades. I’ve been writing here in various degrees for more than a decade now, also. The webinar series is more than 10 years old. My column with Municipal World is comparatively more recent, but it has helped to highlight that I’ve got some well worn grooves in my routine.
It’s time to shake things up a bit. I’ve got some new projects that I’ve wanted to take on, and I want to show up a little differently going forward.
I will still be writing regularly here,, just not quite with the same frequency that I have in the past. This is the place where I get to most be myself, and share what’s going on in my world. My reflections have gotten a little bit more personal, and what I write hopefully resonates with those who are going through similar transitions or facing similar challenges. Where my goal has been to publish a column weekly, though, I will be dialing that back a little to make space for a couple of other activities that I’m quite excited about.
This shift has been partly inspired by the writing I’m doing for Municipal World. While related to strategy and successfully delivering complex and difficult stuff well, you can infer from the title that there is a fairly specific audience it reaches. Strategy in a municipal government context is a particular challenge, and it’s an interesting one to explore. There are broader themes and topics that I would like to delve into, ones that align with how my consulting work has evolved.
To that end, in addition to what gets published here I will be periodically writing articles of a more strategic bent which will be published on my corporate site over at Interthink Consulting. You can expect to continue to see an article from me here every couple of weeks. The same will be true over there.
All of that is great, and gives me a bit more range in what I write (and a bit more focus in what goes there). It’s not a radical shake-up, so much as it is a clarification. There’s one other project that I’ve been noodling away on for a while, and have been working towards for the last couple of months.
It is no secret to anyone that I like to read. It is also entirely self-evident that I inhabit the world of strategy. Meaning that I read a number of books that leverage the various forms of getting things done in organizations. I share a couple of those every year as part of the webinar series I do with Peter de Jager. Our “Taking a Read on…” series has been one of our more popular features, as he and I share the books that we most enjoyed and valued from the previous year. It has also always been a relatively fun webinar to produce.
It is in that vein that I am pleased to introduce… Strategy Books. Depending on how you find it, it is a Youtube channel and a web site (or possibly both). It is where, every couple of weeks, I’ll be posting an in-depth review of a book of strategic relevance (as guidance, or cautionary tale, depending upon the book). Some books will be new and trendy. Others will be classics (or ones that should have been classics, if they were given their appropriate due).
To make things interesting, reviews will be recorded live. I’ll be broadcasting to my channel on Linked In. I’ll also be exploring the odd feature, whether studying a theme (and the pivotal books that offer different perspectives) or having a conversation with friends, colleagues and the occasional industry leader about the strategic books that have profoundly influenced them.
Exciting as this is for me, all of this isn’t going to necessarily appeal to everyone. This mailing list reaches a couple of thousand people every month. Some of you have been here since the beginning. Others of you are quite recent. Your reasons for subscribing are as varied as the work that I do and my focus has evolved. If you value that eclecticism, then keep hanging around. It isn’t going away, and this is your home for the more personal musings that are rattling through my head.
If you like what you receive here, then you don’t need to do a thing. Keep your subscription going (or visiting here when the spirit moves you) and you’ll continue to get the content that you have come to know and love, just on a slightly different publication schedule.
To read my strategic articles, you’ll want to subscribe over at Interthink Consulting. A separate mailing will come out there every two weeks, as well as highlighting some of the more interesting articles, insights and resources that I’ve come across. If you’re interested in Strategy Books and want to follow my reviews there, you can either sign up at the web site or subscribe to the Youtube channel. Finally, if you haven’t already discovered the Technobility webinar series, you should probably check that out, too.
My hope and aspiration is that 2022 is a different year. I want it to be one of excitement and meaning and engagement, for every single one of us. I am endeavouring to make it as meaningful as I can, in ways that resonate for me. I’m stepping out a little from my comfort zone and trying to show up in some new and exciting ways, and look forward to seeing how that plays out.
As always, thank you for being here. I look forward to keeping in touch, and send you my very best wishes for you, both personally and professionally.
How do you plan to step out of your comfort zone this year?