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Concept Monger

Photo Bob Fabianmon-ger, n a dealer or trader in a specified commodity: usually in compounds, as in fishmonger or ironmonger.

Mongering Concepts are important. Concepts are the bedrock of commerce. These turn-of-the-last-century boys had an idea. They first formed the concept of selling pretzels, ... before anything else was possible. And their customers had to already understand the concept of a pretzel, ... before they would even consider purchasing one.

Concepts make a difference!

Concepts have always been important. They have always provided the foundation for: products, services, jobs, departments, organizations, contracts, investments, technology, systems, ... Today, concepts are even more important. The rapid pace of change makes it imperative for organizations to search out the concepts that are important today, and those that will be important in the next six to sixty months.

Working at finding the "right" concepts for today, and for tomorrow, has been central to my professional life. As an academic I worked at understanding what makes a computer program complex. GraduatingThat effort won me a Ph.D. from Case Institute of Technology, even though I concluded that there are no easy ways to describe real-world complexity.

I went off to teach, and soon was in the middle of introduction of computing on campus. In the 1960s, I wrote the grant application which brought the first computer to Smith College. In the 1970s, during my period as Chairman, a number of undergraduate degree programs in Computer Science were established at York University. I championed distributed computing and software engineering before either term was in wide use.

The "Real" World

In 1980, I concluded that the best way for my ideas to have an impact on real events was to move from the academy to management consulting. I've been out in the "real" world since then. The transition was an interesting period, not without stress, but leading to a deeper understanding of how change happens.

As an academic, the real-world was happy to accept that I was correct, but they questioned my relevance. As a management consultant, I could only get heard if I was seen to be relevant, but then my ideas were no longer accepted as correct. I went from being correct, but irrelevant, ... to relevant, but incorrect.

There was a similar shift in my approach to problem solving, from problems that I saw as important, to problems seen by my clients as important. To be effective as a change agent, you must start from where the client is. The challenge is to find a path from the client's current position towards the desired or required future.

I have come to terms with having one foot in the world of ideas, and one foot in the world of commerce. I have thought of myself as a concept monger for some time. Now I have a business card which gives me the concept monger title. It's right for me, even if it's not what everyone expects when they call a consultant.

Finding Concepts

Keys One of the problems in business today is that too many search for the single key that will open all locks. In business terms, that single key has been imagined to be business process reengineering, or the learning organization, or shareholder value or ... In technology terms, the single magic key might be data warehousing, or client-server, or the Internet, or ... The single key that gets found may be a technical "success", but is too often irrelevant to the important locks shackling the organization, today and in the future.

All of my experience points to the need to find the key idea, or concept, that is "right" for the organization, given its time and place. The key will depend, very much, on context. My value is that I have a large ring of key concepts that can be tried on the locks shackling an organization; I have the ability to think beyond the immediate, to the conceptual keys that will be "right" in six to sixty months; and when I don't already have the "right" key concepts, I have the experience, expertise, and contacts to find the new concepts that will be required for my client's future success. I am a concept monger, helping clients uncover, discover, or invent the key concepts they need, today and into the future.

Contact Me

Call I would welcome the opportunity to talk about how I can help you find the concepts that will make a difference for you and your organizations, today and tomorrow. I can be reached by any of the normal means.

610 - 25 Maitland Street,
Toronto, M4Y 2W1.