This January, I had the opportunity to spend 3 weeks in a creative consulting class. My client was Cincinnati Startup OROS Apparel, an apparel company that uses NASA aerogel as the insulation for their jackets. With my team, our charge was to find business opportunities for the company, ranging anywhere from social media campaigns to product design (#ambiguity).
To accomplish this task, it was important that we had all the right tools for creative thinking. So, my class set of to San Francisco, the startup/innovation hub of the U.S, for a week to learn from some of the best in the business. We had the chance to visit with professionals from companies such as D. School, IDEO, Pilot 44, Disney and Twitter. These companies helped us to gain knowledge in brainstorming, competitor landscaping, social media utilization, branding and storytelling.
After our amazing and jam-packed week on the West Coast, we made our way back to Miami University to spend two weeks using what we had learned paired with creativity heuristics to find truly amazing opportunities for OROS. This class was truly an amazing opportunity, but the benefits did not come without some amazing moments of learning. Here are my three takeaways from my first experience in consulting:
- Embrace the ambiguity. This may be obvious, but in practice, being able to move forward in a project when you feel like you don’t know anything is kind of hard. When it comes to consulting, your client may not know what they need. It is you and your team’s job to study their performance, resources and competitors to know what the company needs to make more money and accomplish their mission/goals.
- Everyone on the team can be a leader. Just not at the same time. When working in a team, it is important that you all discuss your strengths and weaknesses. If you have an “A” team, you will be able to makeup for where your teammate falls short, and vice versa. This means that everyone has the ability to step up and lead the team during a different part of the consulting process. Whether you are good at clarifying the problem, coming up with ideas or developing an action plan, you can play a big role in your project.
- Have fun! Consulting is hella stressful. Like, 14-hour days stressful. This can cause your brain and body to just shut down and then everything just continues to go downhill. Remember that you are helping a company to grow through innovative solutions…that’s so freaking exciting!! Play around with your team, find fun games, do a quick YouTube workout or eat a good dinner. Nothing will get done if you are dying.
Learning these simple things helped me to become a stronger thinker, ideator and lover of creativity. I am looking forward to my next chance to do work in consulting!