The Independent Business Professional
A Different Point of View!
by Rick Sidorowicz

I think it’s useful every once and a while to dig down into the archives, pull out a few contentious items and ‘take stock’ for a reality check of what progress we’ve really made. The series - The Independent Business Professional was from a ‘less enlightened age’ when large organizations were so very traditional - and slow - and no fun at all. They were the dinasaurs of business - unable to adapt to the new business reality - replaced by more the agile, rightsized, and competitive enterpises of today. It might however, be useful to review and reflect on how far we’ve come - for a ‘refreshing’ reality check. (ed.)

A Different Point of View!

Independent business professionals have had to come to grips with the basics of business - how to add value and achieve results, fast. The challenge of the independent contractor parallels that of organizations having to redefine ‘themselves’ to continue to be relevent in a ‘difficult’ and unforgiving environment. It then makes good sense for organizations interested in cultural change to tap into the growing pool of independent talent, specifically to inject a new and more relevant midset of performance. Independent business men and women can offer a contemporary set of skills and strengths to accelerate and drive change efforts in organizations in every discipline.

The view of an organization’s processes, activities, operating values, and people from an outsider’s perspective can be ‘enlightening,’ to say the least. Large, typical, traditional bureaucracies offer the most fertile landscape for the strangest of characters and most 'interesting’ behaviours and rituals. The independent’s point of view and perspective is dramatically different.

The perspective of the independent professional entering an organization is generally rooted in the following outlook or attitude:

“... what is really wanted and needed here, and how do I add value 
(and make a living in the process?)”
The sequence of thought is an important distinction, and there are subtle but important inferences in the statement above. Very often what is really wanted is dramatically different from what is really needed, and the notion of ‘adding value’ is often skewed to ‘what someone will feel good paying for’ for any number of reasons. ‘Feeling good’ is very often the significant motivator and is not always related to ‘doing good’ and achieving meaningful results.

Here are two of the more obvious differences between the ‘culture’ of traditional organizations and the mindset of the independent contractor:

Organizations work on activities and focus on control:

Activity: An ongoing series of actions to accomplish some desired output; consuming resources, time, and attention, and yielding certain outcomes, products, or outputs; a high propensity of inertia in requiring external force to initiate, stop, or change.

Control: To dominate, influence, have authority over; to regulate; to check or restrain; to be ‘in the know’ and have no surprises; at best achieved only briefly in tiny segments of the universe; usually an illusory sense of the ability to directly influence the outcomes of events.

Independent business professionals work on projects and focus on performance:

Project: A planned or contemplated venture or set of activities to achieve a desired outcome, result or destination; making something new or different happen; accomplishing something; key elements include a start, action, and completion.

Performance: The act, process, or manner of ‘doing’ and accomplishment; fulfillment; an accomplishment or deed; getting ‘stuff’ done.

The perspective of the independent outsider is indeed very different from those operating within large bureaucracies. The context is different and (assertion) more focused on creating value. The attitude is very different and (assertion) more interested in performance. Independents outperform (assertion) simply because they have to. The answers to a few simple questions set the independents apart:

  • Are you here to build a career or to build an organization? 
  • Is the priority to look good or to do good? 
  • What’s at the heart of the matter here - self interest or service first?
The set of skills, attributes and attitudes of the independent business professional are precisely those needed by individuals and organizations alike to respond effectively within today’s very challenging environments. In this sense individuals and organizations share a common challenge of adapting quickly to new and unique circumstances and re-inventing how they can create and deliver value to their customers.

The moral of the story?

If you are working as an independent business professional, or want to, or think you will have to, focus on projects, performance, and the achievement of results.

If you don’t want to be an independent business professional, start acting like one to improve the liklihood of keeping your job.

And if you are truly interested in improving performance - hire independents, engage them, and get as many independent thinking individuals into your organization as you can to move it quickly, dramatically, and very positively.

Key words:

Get Stuff Done Fast!

The Independent Business Professional
From the series “A New Reality of Superior Performance and Adventure"

Rick Sidorowicz is the Publisher and Editor of The CEO Refresher and
the Minister of Culture of High Performance Retail.

Many more articles in Performance Improvement in The CEO Refresher Archives


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