There is no shortage of advisors, with lots of experience and education, and an ever-expanding toolset. But what is often missing is the spirit through which advice is given.
Business advisors are committed to providing the benefit of that experience and knowledge but it is a rare few who treat their profession as a calling. Even fewer consider the way in which they develop understanding of a client’s situation and needs as an art form.
However, some advisors do consider their profession that of artisans, showing an ability to methodically combine tools, techniques and experience to create a desired outcome for a client. The Japanese describe this as shokunin kishitsu, translated as “the artisan’s spirit.” However, in the book, Japanese Woodworking Tools: Their Tradition, Spirit, and Use, author Toshio Odate explains that a simple definition of the shokunin cannot express the deeper meaning of the word. The shokunin is much more than a exemplary artisan. Odate says:
The Japanese apprentice is taught that shokunin means not only having technical skill, but also implies an attitude and social consciousness. […] The shokunin demonstrates knowledge of tools and skill with them, the ability to create beauty and the capacity to work with incredible speed. The value of an object is dependent on a subtle combination of skill and speed […] In short, the pride of the shokunin is the simultaneous achievement of skill and speed. One without the other is not shokunin.
Recognizing the pace of business and the need to get results fast and efficiently, advisor and advisee may benefit from respecting the value of taking the time to craft a diagnosis, strategy, path of execution or process of evaluation with the care and insight of an artisan. After all, the executive wants to create a powerful, growing, healthy business, and the advisor wants to give that advice that treats the whole organization, not just a temporary symptom for one part.