Discussion Report 23 Allison Hewlitt - Working Alone (but together)

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  • Eva
  • Eva
  • Pete
  • Pete
  • Nancy
  • Michael
  • Jess
  • Michael
  • Camilo
  • Paul
  • Claudia
  • Lucie
  • Beverly
  • Marc
  • Marc

Key Discussion Points

What's been learned?

  • being independent is about finding a fit ie. meeting pressing needs for the kind of work that I want to do
  • networking is key; easy when you are a buzzer
  • segwaying into consulting made it easier ie. planned a year ahead while working within an organisation which made for a great departure into consultancy status; it was a good step up
  • having a visible role of the KM4Dev community made a difference
  • sometimes it is lonely work; miss the corridor chats; hard to keep motivated
  • knowing that something good will happen made it easier (fit)
  • it is becoming more important to me to work on contracts that don't compromise my own values; being able to do the things that I want to do is great
  • can have sleepless nights (especially having others rely on me) & sometimes need to do more than I can ie. spending lots of time in an airplane
  • disconnected earlier than job ended so that I could start running by the time that I left
  • after a year and a half, I have plenty of work to keep me busy
  • it was helpful to connect with two parallel networks: at the international and local levels
  • unlike others I never feel alone and it has to do with web 2; in fact I would like more time
  • as a manager, I often use consultants to support the work that I want to do
  • returning to a previous organisation seems to make a difference in terms of how people perceive my work and contribution
  • I am comfortable to walk away from a contract especially when I don't feel I get the respect I deserve; this was an important change within my organisation
  • I discovered that I need to charge a reasonable amount and don't negotiate for less - otherwise I run the risk of being treated like rubish; if someone really wants you, they will find ways; $ isn't the issue
  • I have heard about penalty clauses ie. when the client doesn't do the work that they are supposed to do, they are charged for it
  • may need to consider using fake rates to work around organisations who have a consultancy rate that is lower than what you charge; or consider using lump sums
  • for me, it is key to recognise different people's contribution; diversity is key
  • add people you like to the team; though costly, it pays to work with others who will hopefully, one day, be able to generate revenue for the business
  • constantly multi-tasking - hunting or hunted by deadlines
  • in growing client relationships you can bounce more and more ideas with them
  • the role is quite different as consultant; less leverage on organisational decisions
  • you are not part of anyone's power play as outside so listened to more
  • great for people who don't like to commute
  • it can be scary and tiring at times; lots of time is spent on planes and nights can be sleepless
  • you learn something new every day

Emerging areas for exchange

  • Going Solo; Talking leaps; what draws us to be independent
  • Keeping connected; Finding people to exchange ideas and bounce ideas
  • Building and managing partnerships; knowing that others will deliver
  • Ethics and values
  • Competition or collusion ie. Marc, Beverly and Allison all putting forward a concept to a client - why not work together?

What I want to know/explore

  • how to work effectively and keep motivated especially at home
  • the differences in setting up an organisation or being an independent
  • how do we link together better
  • the tensions related to open business models ie. producing knowledge but also making a living
  • how to test partnership relationships
  • what its like to be an independent
  • ways to have ongoing dialogue with people
  • selling out on values when money is tight
  • I work best in conversation - how can I include that in my work?


  • Create a separate space for independents to discuss some of the issues related to being independent; Done - see dgroups.org/groups/km4dev-autonomous
  • could use CIARIS/Shirikisha or linked in to connect
  • doppler could be used to track where people are going to provide an idea of when meet ups can take place
  • Going Solo is one network for people going solo; lots of references
  • Take part in one of Eva Schmidt's workshops "How to become a consultant in international development cooperation (next one taking place in Switzerland in Oct)
  • grow the consultant list on the wiki
  • Book recommendation by John Rowley