At the Vision 2020 conference, Stewart Butterfield, CEO of Slack described the importance of humanity in business, connecting at a personal level with your clients. He then went on to describe a customer service exchange which was an homage to the original Star Wars movie. Although it was a great story, I was still struck by his opening riff on the origins of the rapidly growing messaging company; he and his colleagues repurposed some software from another life, “pivoting” to the messaging space. I fixated on this point, perhaps, because I had been in the repurposing business as well, but I repurposed expertise.
You hear about “repurposing” a lot in the software business. Instagram had famously flopped as a platform until it was repurposed as a photo sight. In the human capital space, though, its not a term of art.
Independent consultants ( like those from M Squared or The Talent Group or Cerius Executives) are accomplished professionals who have a body of expertise in a given discipline. With every assignment they take, they are, by definition, enhancing their intellectual capital, since even though one engagement may be similar to another, each has its unique challenges. To meet those challenges – or opportunities — they need to repurpose their arsenal of management and consulting skills. My favorite gigs were always those where the client agreed to engage a consultant who was pivoting to take the assignment, by applying expertise in consumer goods to digital media, for example.
As I think about my book project, perhaps there should be a repurposing chapter…