Life-drawing lesson in observation

Today in my life-drawing class I realized a way that art school may have helped me be a better consultant.

Drawing teachers train you to observe what is really there, not what should be there.  If the model’s knee is raised above their hip, then draw the knee where it is. Seems obvious, but people tend to draw what they imagine or assume, and that’s usually a person standing up straight (with their knees below the hips).

Similarly, a consultant needs to observe the client organization as it actually is.  If the client imagines it could or should be different, the consultant must identify that gap and how to bridge it.

This seems obvious, but we are often lulled into trusting our imagination instead of believing our eyes.  For example, a leader recently told me that a project was “active”.  I observed that no project activity has happened in months.  If he wants the project to be active, he must assign someone to actually do it.