Why I’m so excited about joining 33 Sticks

(Cross posted from the 33 sticks blog)

33 Sticks formed shortly after I had to part ways with Hila and Jason about 5 years ago. Since the beginning, I’ve followed their story and cheered them on, excited about what they were accomplishing and hoping I’d get to be a part of it someday. Unfortunately the timing never lined up- they’d finally be ready to add someone like me to the team, but I’d have just started a commitment elsewhere. In October when I went independent, a large part of that decision was that I wanted to be free and ready when 33 Sticks was ready, and I’m thrilled that things finally lined up just in time for Summit.

I’ve either been employed or done contract work for a dozen different agencies since 2006. After this much time as an implementation consultant, I’ll admit I’m experiencing some burnout. Some folks have already heard me swear off consulting- it can just be so hard to really provide value. So why is 33 Sticks an exception?

The people

I’ve worked with Hila, Jason, and Jon before and know how awesome they are, and I can already see that I have much to learn from Jim Driscoll. There isn’t a member of the team that isn’t a principal-level consultant with years of experience with all different levels of projects. There is no offshore team we’ve committed to delegate work to. Every single member of this team is the type of person to go over the top to see clients succeed, yet they all have a rich life outside of work too. It’s a rare and incredible thing, to join a team where you already know and respect each of your coworkers, and genuinely enjoy spending time with each of them.

The model

33 Sticks contracts aren’t based on hours billed, but rather on value provided. This is a difficult model to get to work- you have to really trust the consultants and the clients to manage scope and be on the same page. It probably wouldn’t work at larger agencies, nor would it work for staff augmentation projects. It only works if the consultants can really build a relationship with the client, and have the experience to focus and drive engagements towards whatever will provide the most value.

In recent years, as I’ve been more exclusively on large enterprise projects, I’ve seen the consulting industry struggle more and more with keeping a cohesive vision for a project. You may have a dozen consultants spread between optimization, implementation, analysis, project management… then on the client-side, you may also have over a dozen folks on different parts of the project. It can feel like there are a lot of people in the car but no one is driving. With the 33 Sticks model, we can work with clients to get that project-wide focus and build a cohesive data ecosystem. You can’t truly consult and provide strategic guidance if you are just taking orders from whoever signed the contract. 33 Sticks can partner with our clients and use the experiences we have from touching hundreds of projects over the years to offer unique guidance, helping focus the engagement on what will provide the most long-term value.

The goal

I feel like Jason and Hila’s goals for 33 Sticks wouldn’t work for everyone, but they align with my own goals well. We aren’t going to take over the world. The goal is not to sell a lot of contracts, grow a lot of staff, influence a lot of projects, and build up wealth. There is no “exit strategy”. Instead, the goal is to do things that provide value, and do those things well. Which isn’t to say there isn’t a financial goal, but even that is much more focused on quality of life, having flexibility not only with how we spend our non-work hours, but also being able to do the type of work we want. For me, that means continuing to work remotely from Atlanta with a flexible schedule, and also have time to keep working on the product ideas and documentation I’m passionate about.

I so appreciate all the well-wishes and congratulations- hopefully after reading this, folks can fully understand why I am so excited about this opportunity. And while we’re not looking to take over the world, I do hope I can help 33 Sticks spread their value even further.


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