Learn how to Work Smarter

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Consulting is a knowledge-based profession.  We get paid, more or less, for making decisions, and making recommendations supporting others' decisions.

In order to do this we need two ...  mm, things:

  1. data - the information, test results, parameters, units, germane to this task;
  2. visualization - how we look at the data: statistics, graphics, GIS, Excel charts galore; this creates the comparisons necessary for the consultant's mind to match patterns and make their best recommendation;
  3. Ok -- three -- time to iterate back to step 1. with summary values or other representation of visual media to assist interpretation.

This blog is a result of a lot of personal investment in understanding how this "workflow" is most efficiently achieved, more errors than successes (!), and the inability to shake this idea that there's a "better way to do this."

I'll be documenting the tools I've built, minus proprietary data and information, to assist my performance over the last seven years.  (Design of tools previously sold to clients will not be shared here to avoid IP infringement.)

Additionally, I've reviewed a number of different platforms to support data management for environmental, geotechnical, and water resource planning, and will host bits of that comparison matrix as we go along.

Finally, I hope to learn from readers too -- what I'm sharing is by NO MEANS the best, most sensible way of doing things, it's just the way my brain was working when the problem crossed my desk.  I have a degree in geology, a little experience around algorithms and lots of energy, but nobody should mistake this for the "last word."

So other participants in this blog include academics (who are often a little less harried to getaresultrightnowcheap) with VERY well-built tools for looking at bigger datasets; other consultants, often competitors, in the Pacific Northwest, who I've spoken with over the years offline asking "But how do you do this...", and previous coworkers whose code I've shamelessly rolled into my own (Joe ... thanks for sharing your insights into class modules and stuff!).

For now I hope to post weekly, as I have a metric ton of material that needs documentation.  I'm one of the lucky consultants still working, yes, so this is a side project that will hopefully benefit not only me and my current employer (as a source of "live documentation"), but others in our wee community.  Wouldn't it be something if we were able to shrink the learning curve for this stuff a little bit and get the EarthSofts, VistaLogics, other vendors of these systems out of "sales" mode so they could focus on their software and stop trying to herd our various slightly nutty ideas and requirements, elusive as cats?  :-)

Shoot me a note with any questions relating to your daily chores, or with feedback.  This'll be fun!

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