I know about certain stuff that not a lot of other people know about – or at least, not in such mind numbing detail. And I make a living out of it by hiring myself out to local authorities and other bits of the state. It’s cheaper for them than actually employing someone who knows about the Stuff I Know About (SIKA). So, yup, I’m a consultant.
You remember all that stuff about ‘Waste’ in the Leader’s Debate? That’s me, that is.
For 25 years I was employed in the not for profit sector where I did a range of things, including developing my alleged expertise. But I had to do other stuff as well – the meat and potatoes business of managing people and stuff. Let’s get real here: I was never a Captain of Industry or a Hero Innovator of the Managerial Classes. I fell into that dread category, Middle Management. I really never liked it – like a lot of folk I found managing people basically either stressful or boring 90% of the time. But I did it because that’s what you do if you get restless working at the coal face – you look for something more ‘challenging’ to occupy your time. It wasn’t that I was a bad line manager per se, it was just a role that never really fitted and I always felt like that proverbial dog walking on its hind legs. But somehow along the way I developed a certain grounding in the SIKA. I like my SIKA. & it is genuinely technically useful and necessary, not one of those faddish cult-things like Change Management or Systems Thinking.
So, in my late forties, I thought ‘sod this for a game of soldiers’ and tootled off to my back bedroom to become a self employed consultant. Everyone, it seemed, was a winner: my former employer found a younger, more energetic person to do my job, I got to work on stuff I actually liked and other organisations could hire me without getting stuck with some moderately expensive but not often used technical skill on their payroll. I could be a Charles Handy case study.
I’m not alone: pop down to the Royal Festival Hall or the British Library cafe anytime during a weekday and you’ll find little groups of self employed consultant-y type folk like me sitting round with their laptops having meetings. & a good half will be out sourced Public/Voluntary Sector types like me. A lot of low-mid level consultancy is retail, rather than PWC-style wholesale.
So, anyway, here I am in my early fifties now and I’m targeted as Waste. The only question seems to be whether I’m Waste to be cut out this year as Mr.Cameron thinks, or at some point in the next four years as the other two main parties think. Oh well, I suppose I could aim to be the oldest holder of those coveted five stars on a McDonald’s staff badge.....
Ah – but what about my SIKA? Think of it as a kind of specialist oil which, in its own little way, helps the bit of the public sector I’m concerned with work better. You don’t need a lot of it, but without any of my SIKA the whole engine begins to work less effectively – and more expensively.
I'll leave you to join the dots in terms of the political implications of all this for any cuts programme.