Faced with an extended contract at the council from hell, trendy Milton Maynard, I have fallen into the classic consultant's dilemma. Do I build a tunnel or a tower? To understand the tunnel strategy, you have to think of the consultant as a leech. I know this is very difficult, as we're such charming, loveable people, but stick with it and you'll get the point (as the leeches say).
A good leech finds a nice, comfy spot, settles down and sucks. With luck it can go unnoticed for ages. It's very similar with a tunnelling consultant.
He or she can be quite difficult to spot. In fact, half the people they work with would swear on oath that they were a normal employee. They blend in so well that it's very easy to forget they cost as much as a small department, and wield authority without responsibility. Consultants like this don't dream of achieving great things, they're happy with an unrocked boat. They want a small pond in which they can play the part of the fish who has been to sea, and so can tell everyone else what real life's about.
Tunnel builders can stay in the same company for years - often to retirement.
Tower builders are a different can of spaghetti. If the tunnel strategy is like being a leech, the tower strategy is like being a toupee. A purple toupee. You go around shouting a lot, letting everyone know you're there.
Whenever you get a chance, you get a group of company employees together and tell them how incompetent they are compared with the competition.
How they'd better pull their socks up if they want to survive (this works particularly well at board level). Then you emphasise your importance to that survival.
The tower builder has no chance of concealment. In fact, he or she does not want it, because the whole purpose of tower building is to be seen in triumphant success, then move on before the cracks in your grand schemes appear. For the best tower building you need to start at least three major projects, get one through to apparent conclusion, then skip on to the next toupee job.
Of course there's more risk with tower building than tunnelling. You don't so much put your head above the parapet as do the dance of the seven veils on top. Ideally you take all the credit for anything that goes right, leaving the failures to the resident workers. Of course, this can make you a trifle unpopular. Hate mail, doggie do in the sandwiches and worse has been known. So moving on is an essential requirement.
There was my choice - spend as much as possible of my working life with my head down in the labyrinthine bowels of Milton Maynard council, or shoot out of there like a high-risk rocket.
Pass the toupee, please. We're on our way up the tower.
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