One of my favorite Pulp Fiction characters is “The Wolf.” In many ways, he represents the ultimate consultant (albeit with a few too many f-bombs, perhaps).
Like the Wolf, we should be able to enter a difficult situation, assess it rationally amidst the drama, and plot a course to quick resolution. Moreover, we need to avoid adding our own noise to the fray.
Maintaining that aloofness can be a tricky balance. You never want to appear blasé in the face of a client’s emergencies. But we also must avoid the rush to DO SOMETHING!!! Racing into a brick wall doesn’t help anyone.
Striving for the Wolf ideal becomes even more challenging on longer, more difficult projects. Harvey Keitel’s character had the luxury of a short-term, well-defined goal.
When we are faced with a marathon, we either have to set a sustainable pace, break it into a series of shorter sprints (with rest in between), or turn it into a relay race. Trying to sprint a marathon never ends well.
When definition is lacking, we need to generate it and get buy-in from the client. Goals need to be specific and measurable. This can be surprisingly difficult to nail down, but until you do, you are in exploration, rather than execution mode.
In any case, it sometimes helps to remember the Wolf ideal. Get in, solve problems, get out.
“Pretty please, with sugar on top.”