Henry Gomez grew up on a small island off the Caribbean coast of Honduras, where he would join his uncle on deep sea fishing expeditions.
One night, he put a bonita fish as bait on a sinker and left it there for so long he’d forgotten about it. All of a sudden, around midnight, just as the crew was getting ready to go home, the line started to go off. So he put on gloves and started yanking the line.
Henry knew the fish was wanting to retreat to a rock, and he needed to stop the line. The fish felt the hook, and while he couldn’t stop the fish from running, he could leave a constant strain. They stood that way, line taut, for so long that Henry began to think they were hooked on a rock. But then the fish started to wear out and give him an opportunity to pull.
Several hours later, he got the fish to the surface. It was a grouper, probably about 300 or 400 lbs.
Then he faced another problem. He couldn’t get the grouper into the dory boat.
So, with a rope, he tied the end of the fin to the side of the boat.
That was the most competition a fish ever gave him.
Now Henry works as a business analyst for Daugherty Business Solutions. And although Atlanta is more landlocked than the Caribbean, Henry often brings the skills he learned with him.
First, it’s about right-sizing for the engagement.
If a fisherman is fishing in shallower waters or steaming toward the fishing ground, they might use live bait, maybe dragging a line and catching fish at the surface of the water. With commercial fishing, they fish for sprats (herrings and sardines) and bonitas (from the tuna family – a fast fish that is very meaty and has a lot of blood in it), which they cut into slabs, put on a sinker, then wait til a red snapper, mutton snapper, yellowtail snapper or grouper grabs it.
Likewise, when Henry enters an engagement at a client site, he learns as much about the topic as he can, then goes out with all the tools he thinks he’ll need. The rigor of analysis is dependent on the size and complexity of the engagement. For smaller or less complex engagements, too much analysis might be a waste of money, because it’s unnecessary, whereas a major engagement with multiple systems requires risk management, scope management, organizational change management and many other factors.
As a senior consultant with Daugherty, Henry works with some of the most complex problems at Fortune 500 organizations – so you might say he has to go “deep” with his analysis.
Preparedness is the name of the game; other overlapping skills include resiliency, flexibility, patience.
Because fishermen have to travel out far, where nothing but miles of waves surround them, they can’t come home emptyhanded. That means enduring the sun blasting during the day, working through sudden and heavy rains, or persisting through the cold at night.
This has taught Henry not to leave a job unfinished. As soon as he finishes a meeting, he writes the requirements while the information is still fresh in his mind. It doesn’t matter how tired he is; he finishes the analysis during the day, because he has a commitment to the client.
Deep sea fishing also requires flexibility. When Henry would go out with his uncle, he’d never know if they’d catch a fish. Sometimes, they’d spend half a day in one location, then a squall would come out of nowhere, and they’d have to leave. Plans change.
Flexibility is made possible by experience. After years of fishing, the fishermen learn the fish’s spots: at the ridges of underwater mountains where varieties like to congregate. And the fishermen don’t just fish with one hook; they’re working with six hooks and a sinker; that way, if they miss or if bait is eaten off, they still have another three or four chances, and don’t have to pull the line up from 60- to 80-fathom depths (360 to 480 feet).
Likewise, when at a client site, Henry has to be flexible. He knows plenty of frameworks he can fall back on, but no two problems are alike, so Henry draws from his experience, coming up with multiple designs based on the requirements because he will likely have to pivot to another.
Fishing is a game of patience. Fishermen can’t see what’s at the bottom of the sea, so they have to wait, using the tools on hand (devices that indicate the bottom of the terrain), then pulling up if the approach is not providing value.
Some days the fish are biting; others, they catch nothing. Sometimes, they snag two or three snappers, just to have them cut in half because of too many sharks.
Henry has learned the art of pragmatic patience as a business analyst – knowing when to persist and when to exit gracefully.
In the end, it’s about adventure and collaboration.
Deep sea fishing is risky; the fishermen have to rely on knowledge and experience to survive. Because of that, they follow unspoken rules – like, if someone is in stress, you go and assist them. Sometimes, fishermen will invite other commercial liners over if the fish are biting.
For Henry, every new engagement at a client site is an adventure. He builds trust with clients, leads at an engagement and gets the job done – learning new tools and skills along the way.
He also appreciates Daugherty for the culture of collaboration, with consultants leveraging each other for different skills. By sharing our collective knowledge, we can provide more powerful solutions to our clients – solutions that drive impressive results. You might say we’re “teaching each other how to fish.”
Do you have any unique quirks you’d like to share with the enterprise? Email us at Jake.Russell@daugherty.com.