Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Journey of a Lifetime

I've traveled to many countries, I've seen many places, but there is only one place on earth that deserves to be called the ultimate destination. Anyone who shares the same belief as me should perform the journey to this destination at least once in their lifetime.
It's indeed the journey of a lifetime.

Insha Allah I will start my journey in less than 30 hours.

Labaik Allahuma Labaik!

Photo by Maitham Almisry

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

School for Global Consultant

In The Innovator’s DNA, published by Harvard Business Review press, the authors build on what we know about disruptive innovation to show how individuals can develop the skills necessary to move progressively from idea to impact.

By identifying behaviors of the world’s best innovators—from leaders at Amazon and Apple to those at Google, Skype, and Virgin Group—the authors outline five discovery skills that distinguish innovative entrepreneurs and executives from ordinary managers: Questioning, Observing, Networking, Experimenting and Associating.

Questioning. Innovators are consummate questioners who show a passion for inquiry. Their queries frequently challenge the status quo.

Observing. They carefully watch the world around them—including customers, products, services, technologies, and companies—and the observations help them gain insights into and ideas for new ways of doing things.

Networking. Innovators spend a lot of time and energy finding and testing ideas through a diverse network of individuals who vary wildly in their backgrounds and perspectives.

Experimenting. Finally, innovators are constantly trying out new experiences and piloting new ideas. They visit new places, try new things, seek new information, and experiment to learn new things.

While the four above are considered behavior skills, innovators count on a cognitive skill that we call "associational thinking" or simply "associating." Associating happens as the brain tries to synthesize and make sense of novel inputs. It helps innovators discover new directions by making connections across seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas. 

Associating is about connecting the dots.

And the skills required to become Global Consultant are not very different with the above. Global Consultant must indeed be creative and innovative when dealing with different customers in different situations.

The question is: can we train someone to acquire those skills? Is our education system sufficient to develop the habit of Questioning, Observing, Networking, Experimenting and Associating? Can our school produce Global Consultant?

We could spend lots of time debating the answers but I believe there is one common thing that we could agree: our current education system was designed with standardization in mind. It treats everybody the same way. It assumes one learning method is applicable to all learners.

And the biggest problem is when learner believe they have to follow the system to get the reward, which is to graduate from this phase and move on to the next phase in life. They are not questioning. They are not observing. They are not encouraged to network, instead everyone is trying to compete with each other to get the highest mark. They are missing the opportunity to experiment. They fail to use those behavior skills as catalyst for associational thinking, despite the degree they receive on graduation day.

There was another debate about whether it's better to get the degree from school or professional certification like CCIE. My answer is simple: if those who take the formal education system and those who take the professional certification path are doing it just to pass the program, then both will not acquire the skills required to become Global Consultant. They both will find after they receive the degree or the certificate that they are still lacking the real skills to stay competitive. They will not be able to catch up in today's global competition.

We need a new way to learn.
We must invent new way to train the skills of Global Consultant.

This new way of learning must treat every individual as unique. Learners must be allowed to learn in his or her own pace. The right technology should be used to make the learning process fun and challenging, and it encourage the learners to question, observe, network, experiment and finally associate all the inputs and to connect all the experiences to come up with new idea.

Does such school exist?
Can we really train someone to become a Global Consultant?

How if I tell you there is a new learning system that offers the following:

Real World Application - the material is very relevant with the real world. It provide the big picture and solutions based to show the connections of all the pieces taught.

Customized - the material is customized to ensure it is relevant with the application in real world, as well as to accommodate learners with different learning pace. It's available anytime, anywhere, and it still encourages interaction between learners.

Experiment - the learning system does not only teach material from textbook but still let learners to challenge it using external references and to experiment through lots of hands-on work in the lab environment.

Project Experience - last but not least, each learner will be put in the middle of simulated project situation to provide experience on working as team, to practice communication skill and to shape the customer-oriented mindset.

Obviously all the above must be balanced with the constraint from financial and time.

I didn't say it would be easy. But I believe it is possible.

And that's why it is disruptive.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Can We Train Global Consultant?

Fast learner. Hard worker. Able to work under pressure. Positive. Achiever. Strive for excellence. Self motivated. Be passionate with work.

Those are not the qualities sought from a Global Consultant.
Those are basic requirements.
Basic requirements to keep your current job, whatever it is.

Global Consultant needs something beyond.

Even Charles Darwin agreed the most adaptable consultant is the one who can survive. Not the smartest.


Team player, team leader, and at the same time able to work independently, anytime, anywhere with minimum supervision.
Understand the presentation is oneself, not the slides nor the animation. Able to convey the technical message to non-technical person.
Possess the T-shaped technical skills.

Possess extensive and broad experiences.
Customer oriented and business-aware.
Global mindset with can-do attitude.

And the most important: the ability to connect the dots.

Here comes the million dollar question: can we train Global Consultant?

Wait for my next disruptive idea.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Looking for Apprentice

Design workshop in Johannesburg. Lab testing in Sydney. Migration work in Riyadh.

I've worked as Global Consultant for more than 13 years, and about 6 years with Cisco Systems. I've traveled to more than 30 countries and I've engaged with many customers around the globe. I've done projects for customers in different industries and in multiple roles.

If someone asks me to describe my work, I usually replies: it's just like what Jason Bourne does, except I don't leave dead bodies.

Take over project in Praque. Meet the team in Munich. Re-establish customer trust in Bratislava.

In the past two years I started shifting my focus to multiple social ventures. I tried to build social networking group for professionals. I founded a non-profit organization to help students in my country to prepare for global market competition. I formed CCIE Club to re-connect all Indonesian CCIEs. I created CCIE93 mentoring program using a unique online learning platform.

I still enjoy working with global customers. I love solving customer issues. I always happy to see when customers apply my design or methodology to transform their network infrastructure to grow the business. But all the social ventures I initiated are the result of my gratitude to the good life I've got so far.

Breakfast in Dubai. Lunch in Vienna. Dinner in Budapest.

And I also realize that not many people can do what I do as Global Consultant. Or willing to do what I do. Or combination of both. During my travel I keep meeting the same folks in multiple places. I see familiar faces all the time. I keep doing all these global projects with the same persons I met in the past.

Is my work too boring for most people? If it's interesting, why don't I meet many global consultants like me? Or is it because it takes much more than technical skill to do the work, and not everyone can be qualified for it?

Present at Cisco Live San Diego. Meet friends in Silicon Valley. Drive Mustang through Beverly Hills and Hollywood.

I finally tried to build a list of what it takes to become a Global Consultant. The list consists of the skills, ability and experiences for each Global Consultant must have. Or so I thought.

It's beyond hard worker, fast learner, self-motivated, achiever, able to work under pressure or being passionate with the work.

It's about the right mindset, positive and can-do attitude.

It's about the ability to connect the dots.

Here is the list:

1. Adaptability
Global Consultant must be able to adapt with the new places. With the new people. With the new situation that may occur. Basically with all the changes that may happen.

2. Communication and Presentation Skill
Global project requires ability to communicate with people from different background and culture. Global Consultant must have the presentation skill to translate the technical terminology to non-technical person.

3. Team Player and Independent
It's not enough to be a team player. Or team leader, for that matter. Global Consultant must be able to work independently as well, with minimum supervision, anytime, anywhere, as long as the objectives are achieved.

4. T-shaped Technical Skill
Technical skill matters. And it's not enough to have in-depth skill in one particular technology, but to widen the horizon by knowing the other technologies too. Think about someone with a qualification equal to CCIE in Routing & Switching, and able to embrace MPLS within the core network, to deploy security measures with policies for all devices, and to integrate the solution to the next generation Data Center architecture.

5. Broad Experiences
Having broad experience is one way to build the confidence level. Dealing with many situations in different roles can hone the skills. In fact, that's one good way to build reputation.

6. Customer Oriented and Business-Aware
Last but not least, Global Consultant must always be focusing on the optimum result for the customers. Do what it takes to bring values and help customer's business to grow. At the end, that's all that matters.

When I look at the list above, I realize most of them can be taught. Global Consultant is indeed a result of combining mindset, attitude, skills and experiences. And a well designed institute should be able to produce one.

Make photos in Venice. Climb the pyramid in Mexico. Watch the game in Barcelona.

Who wants to become the new Global Consultant?

Wait for my next disruptive idea.