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More Than Ideas
Walking into a consulting opportunity to be greeted by a small contingency of skeptical faces is common in my world. Honestly, I don’t blame them. Many organizations and companies have experienced the theory-laced world of consulting that yields unrealistic and/or over-simplified recommendations for complex issues without addressing real needs or tangible next steps.
I have no desire to leave a client with just good ideas. The reality is that ideas alone can’t change anything. Ideas need smart infrastructure, processes for implementation, and a team committed to creating a viable launch. A comprehensive understanding of the overall process of idea-making and actionable next steps are central to innovating ideas and bringing them to life.
What do you really need at this point of idea-making as an individual, company, or organization? The truth of the matter is that you don’t need to do everything right now. Discerning what actual needs are from potential ones can save you a lot of time, money, and unnecessary stress! More common than not, I often find myself skimming down the scope of needs for a client and/or prioritizing them in such a way that allows for gradual build that makes sense.
I like to think in terms of phases for development and staying lean whenever possible. Finding alternative, cost-effective solutions for clients brings a ton of joy to everyone involved. It also allows for more growth and sustainability.
People hire consultants because they sense that they need help in an area that lacks expertise. At times, this will lead to an unhealthy form of client dependency (i.e., a client becomes overly dependent upon the services of a consultant). Although this produces steady business for a consultant, I don’t believe that dependency should be one of the primary outcomes of client engagement.
I believe that empowering the client to make informed decisions by educating them on best practices and viable options is far more effective than simply telling them what to do. I will always choose co-creation of long-term organizational health over quick fixes without proper understanding. Placing the client’s interest over my need to retain them is important to me. A retainer relationship is a great by-product of my work, but it’s a terrible goal.
Bite Size Solutions
Many ideas are so big, broad, and general that it is difficult to determine where to start. Visionaries and idea-lovers often get stuck in their inability to breakdown their “big idea” into smaller bite-size, actionable next steps. This often produces frustration in team members who are keen when it comes to details. Been there? We all have.
It’s no wonder that many teams have expressed their sense of relief whenever I share with them processes that help turn big ideas into smaller, attainable goals. Thinking big requires us to simultaneously to think small. The secret to making ideas come to life is found in a company’s ability to execute all of the necessary “little” steps that make the “big” possible.
The success of launching something new requires the support and presence of a viable network that believes in what you’re doing. Sometimes ideas never see the light of day because the right people are not connected nor aware of the project.
Over the years, I’ve been able to nurture an extensive network of influencers, companies, and organizations that continue to produce amazing products and services. Networking good people or organizations to one another is a core passion of mine. This means that whenever there’s a mutually beneficial opportunity for a client with one of these great brands, I go out of my way to make sure a great connection is made. In other words, I always have my network in mind when working with clients in order that they may have the optimal chance of launching their ideas well.
No great idea can be developed or implemented well without a community that believes and supports it. We need each other. Community, whether it’s an internal team or an external constituent of people, provides thought refinement, accountability, and tangible resources. Furthermore, what fun is it in accomplishing something if there’s no one else to celebrate with at the finish line?
As a consultant, I strive to stay collaborative in my projects with clients. My goal is to build lasting, reciprocal relationship that goes beyond the transactional engagement of a project. Transactions eventually end, but relationships continue to endure. Developing community around a project is vital to its success. This takes a lot of intentional effort beyond basic client relationship management (CRM). This is why I call it Co/”labor”ate (i.e., It involves thoughtful labor together.).