I’ve been running my consultancy for many years now, 14 to be precise and during this time we’ve been lucky enough to work with many wonderful people. I used to think that this was just good luck on our part until recently when I started to question this element we refer to as ‘luck’. In fact I recall one business owner saying to me during a car journey that “the harder he worked, the luckier he seemed to get”. I hadn’t heard this before and so it struck me as being very insightful. But since that time I’ve thought about this even further. Take for example my comment about being ‘lucky enough’ to work with many wonderful people which really isn’t a case of ‘luck’ at all.
Why? Because in business the one thing we all need to do well is share a common language. But how ‘common’ is this language? Take for example the expression about having ‘common sense’, if it were truly ‘common’ then everyone would have it and we know that’s not the case. So here our language is completely misleading. Unfortunately that happens all too often in business too and that’s how mistakes are made with misunderstandings occurring straight from the off. So ensuring clarity of purpose and agreeing our shared objectives is critical for success; not just the success of any project but the associated success that is derived from that…the process that firmly places two or more people at exactly the same stage so that together they can continue to develop their businesses and their professional relationships.
This was something I understood with my consultancy at a very early stage, possibly because I didn’t want any recriminations.
I set up our Terms & Conditions with the help of a long standing law practice, but we went further than that by making sure we quoted every job thoroughly and we even included a set of ‘Schedules’ within inclusions and exclusions so that the clients, should we ever need to refer to them, could. I always ask these to be approved in writing with copies to both parties and I can honestly say…I’ve never needed to rely on them. Yes, that’s right, never needed to rely on them. Perhaps this is because we’ve made the communications work for both of us.
I can refer to a couple of examples which may help you.
- Around six years ago we were asked by a client who’d received our quote to get on with the job, but the work needed much more detail, too much to include in the initial quote and the client didn’t have the time to supply me with her written brief, so we took a little bit of extra time to compile one for the client to sign-off herself. She duly complied, after all, we’d saved her the time doing it, demonstrated we knew precisely what was required, and completed the job to an agreed specification. A few months later a third party tried to charge the client for undertaking some further work but our brief saved this cost and helped to increase the strength of our relationship with her.
- In the past few months we’ve had a similar situation where the expression ‘single customer view’ was being used differently by three supporting businesses. In truth all had a different understanding of what was required until we qualified it. How? Because we understood the marketplace and appreciated the differences. This project could have rumbled on for months before someone realised and then felt seriously let down.
Just two examples using the ‘same language’ but you can see how these issues can happen all too easily without a bit of effort, hence the comment that was once made to me about ‘the harder I work, the luckier I get’. So when I say we’ve been ‘lucky’ to work with some wonderful people, perhaps we should also take some of the credit for bringing this about and perhaps your clients too will be wonderful people if you begin to understand the need for defining those objectives?
If you recognise this problem and you’d like my help or simply want to discuss what we could do for you, please get in touch by calling 01788-815327.