Why are you always asked to put out fires?

Why are you always asked to put out fires?
It can be a grinding, thankless job.
Is it because you’re good with a fire hose, or perhaps you work for a pyromaniac?

That’s a good question to ponder.

It’s day 30 of my #30daysofvideos challenge and I believe I’ve made progress in improving my on-screen presence and delivery (feedback welcome!)

I decided to do today’s in one take without editing, so you can see me struggle with the words complex, wicked, problem and projects 😂
I also stumbled when I started on the analogy about using swords in a melee (we watched Thor last night – which was the image that inspired that train of thought!)

A Programme Director once told me that if I wanted to get promoted into a director level position, then I needed to seek out projects that was in crisis and turn them around.

You want to be the elite SWAT team of your field.
The work is dirty, bloody, messy – but only the best can deal with it.

It is a badge of honor.
Unless it’s your boss/partner (add cliche’d movie bad guy) is the one who set up the trail of dead bodies and destruction for you to step into.

I think I need to get better at doing analogies 😁 although I find mangling them way more fun.



I was talking to a Technical Architect not too long ago.

She just moved from a smaller consulting partner to a larger one and she was bemoaning the fact that she seemed to be pulled one way, and another way in all over the place to put out fires, and that it was quite annoying that people seem to use her for that.

My response to that was that if you become very good at what you do, and you go up the career ladder, you will be asked to put out fires, because that’s what you’re good at.

You are able to look at a crisis situation, and find a way to get through it.

You’re like the firemen, and the paramedics, who see something that went really wrong, and go in to salvage th situation.

It isn’t for everyone and it isn’t very fun if you have to do it all the time, but it speaks to how people perceive you.

And when I shared this with her, she felt a lot better about how things have turned out for her.

And that when I caught up with her much later on, she found a new sense of control in understanding of her situation.

That said, though, if you work in a Consulting Partner, where there are lots and lots of fires put up every single day, then it’s worth thinking about why that is the case.

Is it a situation where the company is always miss-selling? Or that the team that has been hired is not up to scratch? What is it that causes so many fires? In larger consulting partners, these fires, I want to say, are inevitable, but it shouldn’t necessarily be the case.

The reason why I feel this kind of dilemma is because the bigger you are, the more complex projects you’re going to get.

Because the big organisation with wicked, big, complex problems will come to you.

They won’t be the easy ones.

And the nature of a lot of these big complex problems, and projects.

Sorry, let’s try that again.

And the issue with the wicked problems that the projects are trying to address is that they’re not easy.

And that’s why they need the really, really good people, the people who can go in, roll up their sleeves and get into the melee and pull out their swords and slice through all the messiness and get to a good resolution.

So there’s two ways to see things – it is perception and the understanding that if you’re asked to put out fires, either you’re very good at doing it, or your company’s is very good at starting fires.

You’ve got to try and figure things out.

But good self awareness will help in making you feel that you’ve got agency and control over what’s happening with your career and your professional life.

So that’s a tip that I’ve got for today.

It’s day 30 of my 30 days of video challenge.

I have grown quite a lot in confidence I believe in my delivery as well.

Apart from the fact that I know I say and start a lot of sentences with words AND and SO I feel that it has been a great experiment.

I will do a lot more of these but maybe, maybe not every day.

You might get tired of seeing me in your feed, day in and day out.

In any case, thanks a lot for watching.

If you’ve been following me, carry on following me and I hope you found today’s tip useful.

Have a fantastic day.

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