Skip to content
Karma

Karma: What’s it all about?

I’ve been having a wonderful time thinking about Database Sherpa. I am grateful to have the time to develop a process that will work for all organizations. Maybe a little history would help for those new to my concept.

It started about 20 years ago when I was running my business, Hopper Business Solutions. Hopper was the embodiment of my dream to run my own business, be my own boss, and to change the way women were viewed in technology. In the beginning, Hopper provided Internet consulting to emerging businesses, but over time, turned into much more.

In addition to creating new databases, I started modifying existing databases for small businesses and nonprofits—systems created by another consultant prior to my arrival. Whenever I began a project, I always found a mixture of disgust, frustration and anger with these systems. I never enjoyed walking into a place with such negative emotions. I often heard these complaints:
  • “The consultant never listened to us and did their own thing. I don’t know why we have to capture the client’s (shoe size, favorite color, etc.). So we don’t and leave that field blank.”
  • “The reports don’t give us what we need. We fill in all the information, but the reports are missing a lot of information that is in the database. Our data is trapped.”
  • “The consultant never finished the database because we ran out of money (or worse, they stopped helping us and moved onto another project). Plus, they worked too much on what they felt was important, and not on our immediate needs.”
This litany is probably no surprise to organizations that have probably at least one such pain point with their former or current system. Let me just say this: It’s NOT just the consultant’s fault.
How can I say this? When I began working with unhappy clients, at some point they say that they had forgotten to mention something to consultant, emphasize the deadline, or take control of the project when things got out of hand. Blaming the former consultant was an easy out.
But, these are mistakes that happen. Even to the best consultant. I wondered, what could we do to make these complaints a place in the past? How can we, as consultants, pass on our knowledge and skills so that the client is now capable of doing the work needed? How can the client be put in the driver’s seat and the consultants be the guide? How can we make our clients happier—and more productive—than when we began with them?
My search for these answers lead to the birth of Database Sherpa where we have a simple value: Bring compassion and joy to our clients, all the while helping them achieve good database karma. (Thanks to DVQ Studio for that fun word combo).Yes, I said JOY. Database work can be tedious and boring. Sometimes it’s even downright frustrating. There is enough frustration in the world, and we have a strong desire to change that. So we approach every project with a positive attitude and encourage lots of laughter and fun to bring back the smile! Now, about that database karma thing, I’ll get to that in a sec….
So, what brought about this thinking about going the extra mile to bring joy into work? Well, recently I’ve been in dialogue with another consultant who has also gone down a similar path, albeit for much longer than I. She has lots of great stories and results, and she’s quite a guru who is becoming a dear friend.She feels it’s important to meet the client where they are at the time they contact her. She told me, “I want to work with clients whose missions I feel strongly about, that I want to support. It’s important that I meet the client where they are, not where I am.” She’s quite compassionate to her clients, and I am sure I can learn more from her as time goes on. And I am in complete agreement with her. We could all learn a thing or two about compassion! She makes a compelling case that makes a lot of sense to me.

We should all help those that reach out to us. Give them the guidance and tools they need so that they are more capable and empowered to drive their mission in the right direction.

But, before you run off sharing your wisdom with everyone you cross paths with, I’d like to offer a caveat. While it’s important to help organizations that to seek change, it’s also critical to make sure they align with your core values.

A key core value at Database Sherpa is to help build good database karma for organizations (I said we’d get back to that). What is this database karma and how does it work? Well, it’s not the karma from the eastern philosophies, or from the TV show, “My Name is Earl.” It’s about destiny to a small extent, but karma is more about action than anything. (And as an aside, I’d like to say there is really nothing “good” or “bad” about karma; it just is.)

Taking this concept one step further, we also believe you cannot outsource your karma. You can’t blame your karma on a long-gone consultant. Good database karma is the result of organizations investing energy to create its database and taking ownership of its long-term maintenance and evolution.

In order to bring positive database karma to organizations, it’s crucial that they be open, be willing to spend time and learn, and be capable of making their database work for them. Good database karma is not as simple as importing data from a spreadsheet. It requires being patient, practicing compassion, facing your fears and doing it “self mommy“.

So, my friend will continue to exhibit compassion for her clients, encouraging and guiding them—even after they’ve started working with her. (A workstyle I greatly admire.) Compassion can have a powerful outcome. It could change the world by making us active, rather than passive learners. (If you read my last post about compassion, you’ll see why I’m such an idealist now.) Ultimately, we desire the same outcome: To make our clients successful with their database systems and increase their knowledge.  My friend has already achieved that, achieving great success and admiration from her clients. That is a wonderful feeling and one she is very proud of.

As a Sherpa, I dream of a day when my client will outshine me and go on to do great things in the database community. I bow deeply to my new friend who has given me food for thought and opened my eyes to other possibilities.

1 Comment

  1. Keeter Consulting

    5 years ago  

    The customer comlaints you listed are both legitimate and common, but as always, I’d like to balance them out by taking my usual contrarian position. Can’t help myself.

    “The consultant never listened to us and did their own thing. I don’t know why we have to capture the client’s (shoe size, favorite color, etc.). So we don’t and leave that field blank.”

    Ultimately, if the customer wants a certain field, the consultant should provide them with that field. That much is obvious. HOWEVER, any consultant worth his or her salt should also be utilized by the customer for the full range of their expertise, and that means cooperating with the consultant to review and clarify with them what they actually want and need vs. what they initially think they want and need.
    > Are some fields obsolete or redundant?
    > Can some of the data be imported automatically from other, existing data sources to eliminate a step (and an opportunity for entry error)from the process?
    > Can some fields be designed in a way to capture the essential elements of more than one field, thus eliminating steps?

    I run into this when working with customers to create web sites frequently. They “know” what they want, but after a dialogue with me, I’m often able to provide them with alternatives they hadn’t previously considered, and information that may alter the cost/time/risk/reward algorithm they use to decide how they want to design and use their web site.

    The best customer is an educated customer. The best consultant is the one who asks questions and doesn’t accept anything at face value, but instead reviews it with their customer critically.

    Your frequently cited complaint about data being “trapped” because available reports can’t include it is a great example of this: often customers assess their own requirements from a new system (database, web site, training program, you name it) too narrowly or only from a short-term perspective. Might you one day want to expand that online training program you’ve created for your own staff so that you can use it in a different capacity with your customers? Vendors? You get the idea.

    “If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” (Anonymous)

    A good consultant provides customers with a broader range to tools to consider, and educates them on how to choose the most apporpriate one.

    A good customer is an active listener and remains open-minded to alternative solutions.

    I think my experience falls less in line with Eastern Philosophy and more in line with Steven Covey’s 7 Habits on this topic.

    “The reports don’t give us what we need. We fill in all the information, but the reports are missing a lot of information that is in the database. Our data is trapped.”
    “The consultant never finished the database because we ran out of money (or worse, they stopped helping us and moved onto another project). Plus, they worked too much on what they felt was important, and not on our immediate needs.”

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>