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Re[2]: Size of Market for P2 Services?

     RE: the ongoing message thread about P2 services (and underlying 
     debate over the value of P2 consultants)
     Michael James wrote (in part):
     > If you are building jet engines or semiconductors and the consult 
     > arrives on site and must first learn what your factory is about and 
     > how it works, then you may be in trouble.
     I have to say (somewhat reluctantly) that I disagree with the 
     conclusion that a P2 consultant (regardless of who pays the bills) 
     cannot provide real value unless they have intimate knowledge of the 
     process and industry that they are working in.  As someone who has 
     stubbornly remained in the "other" category (neither consultant nor 
     industry-type) for most of my years, hopefully I can say this without 
     sounding defensive.
     Admittedly, pollution prevention hinges on an understanding of the 
     technology involved in production; however, this understanding is 
     rarely sufficient.  A skilled practitioner of pollution prevention 
     (regardless of stripe) typically must bring something else to the 
     table as well.  This "something else" might be:
     * an understanding of underlying engineering phenomena (often times 
     "good in theory" turns out to be "good in practice as well!")
     * an understanding of technology systems.  Being able to take a step 
     back and ask apparently stupid questions about the reason for doing 
     something requires skill and courage.  Being able to take the answers 
     to these stupid questions and come up with a new way of doing 
     something is a skill sometimes lacking in the technical expert.
     * an understanding of people and organizations.  Have you read 
     Dilbert?  Then you know what I am talking about.
     * an understanding of "process."  No, not electroplating or circuit 
     board etching (though it sometimes helps).  I'm talking here about 
     change processes, business processes, and facilitation processes.  
     Some of the best P2 people I've observed in the field were skilled in 
     just this one thing.
     I would argue that many of the better P2 consultants (private OR 
     public sector -- there are stars in both) bring one or more of these 
     skills to their client sites, and as a result provide a great deal of 
     value.  I think the fact that these skills don't seem to have an 
     enormous market potential is because they tend to be catalytic in 
     nature.  As in chemical processes, you don't need a lot of catalyst to 
     get a reaction started, but it's pretty hard to make anything happen 
     without it.
     Interesting metaphor, if you think about it.  We could spend a great 
     deal of time talking about catalyst selectivity (different catalysts 
     for different jobs), rate limiting steps, pore (poor?) diffusion, and 
     catalyst deactivation (some of us more than others...).  
     But I won't go there right now.....
     Clueless in Seattle,
     Scott Butner
     Scott Butner (rs_butner@pnl.gov)
     Pacific NW National Laboratory/Seattle Research Center 
     4000 NE 41st Street
     Seattle, WA  98105
     206-528-3290 voice/206-528-3552 fax