David James Olney

29 November, 2023


In late 2013 I was happily engrossed in finding and assimilating fascinating ideas, while I was preparing to teach Complex Problem Solving to undergraduates for the first time. I was focused on finding an argument and/or tool that would convince undergraduate students to believe in their own abilities as much as I believed in them.


Out of nowhere, I discovered Kathryn Cramer’s work on Asset Based Thinking, which is centred on the observation that you never start from zero: you have already had successes based on transferable skills, and your next success depends on recognising what you have achieved, understanding how you achieved it, and adding to the skills you already have.


With Cramer’s work, I found my way to get students to reflect on the fact that they could believe in themselves to achieve great things. Incredibly, students didn’t just pick up Asset Based Thinking and run with it, they started arranging for me to teach Complex Problem Solving to their bosses, friends, and families. Out of a first lecture for a University course, My career as a consultant teaching Complex Problem Solving began across the Defence, public and private sectors, and within a few months people were asking me to provide professional mentoring for them and their teams.


Without intending to, I had gone from being mentored by amazing people to becoming a professional mentor for amazing people.


Mentoring is incredibly rewarding: I get to help people define what they want to achieve, reflect on what they want to learn, combine tools and concepts to specifically meet their needs, and provide a safe place within which they can grow toward their aspirations.


My professional mentoring services are based on a life-time of finding good ideas and best practices and testing them on myself and the projects I have been a part of. I am happy to learn from anyone’s experience, and I don’t encourage anyone to apply a concept, or tool, until I have my own experience of its practical and ethical value.


I focus on helping my mentees to build positive habits, develop life-enhancing traits, create stable scaffolding for their aspirations, build systems that will hasten their success, and define constructive and achievable expectations.


If you know you want to achieve something that feels just beyond your reach, or you feel like you want to grow in a new professional direction, then I encourage you to reach out and discuss professional mentoring with me.


I’m not sure that anything is more professionally satisfying than helping someone to achieve their goals and embody their potential. If you have the drive, I can help you build the road to where you want to go.


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