Client Feedback Tool
  • Ten Things I Learned in 2015

    Posted on November 24th, 2015 Ryan Suydam No comments
    Ten Things I Learned in 2015

    I’ve spent the year attending many of the best conferences in the industry, traveling alongside a few of the savviest business consultants, and working with many of the most forward-thinking professional services firms in the world. We’ve shared books, ideas, and other resources with each other.  It’s December, and my brain is full!

    Before I re-calibrate over the holidays and gear up for another new year of learning in 2016, I wanted to pause and reflect on the best of the best ideas I encountered in 2015. These ideas all went beyond AHA! moments and became integral pieces of how I operate. In short, these are the ideas that stuck, that changed my perception, and affected my behavior.

    Perhaps you’ve been too busy this year to get the professional development you wanted. Perhaps you’re just curious. Either way – I’m sharing my curated list, the best of the best, the things that rose to the top.

    In no particular order, here are ten things I learned this year I thought worth sharing:

    1. There Is No Hope! Darren Smith at Cima Strategic taught me to stop hoping for a project to end well. Instead, put processes in place to KNOW that it will end well. His goal: Have a “best project experience ever” – on every project. I have focused on understanding ideal outcomes from the beginning, and driving towards those more consistently.
    2. Precise Questions Matter. Bob Stocking at Vervago revealed the necessity of asking the right questions, precisely. A few simple techniques can keep even a talker like myself focused on listening with purpose. I have put into practice skills that are both more efficient and effective than the “old way” – leading to deeper conversations and more success in both sales and services delivery.
    3. Social Status is a Matter of Survival. Michelle Brown at Sentis shares how perceived social threats affect our neurochemistry, triggering base instincts and reactions rooted in the origins of humankind as a species. Becoming aware of these triggers, I have been able to re-wire my brain to handle criticism and negativity without the anxiety of before.
    4. Don’t Reject Myself. Jia Jiang at WuJu Learning, revealed how we’re so hardwired to avoid rejection, we will often reject ourselves before we allow others to reject us. Jia’s practical exercises have helped me be bolder, get over myself, and ask for more in life – and getting it.
    5. Clients Don’t Buy Me. Tim Asimos at circle S studio highlights how clients want their problems solved. I will never be an aspiration purchase, I will only be a practical part of a solution. I have begun to focus more on sharing relevant content that solves problems – and the work has followed.
    6. Communication Reduces Risk. Tim Corbett of SmartRisk presented evidence that firms that communicate effectively have a greater probability of being a “high performing firm.” These high performing firms realize dramatically increased profits and both reduced liability and liability premiums. I have begun re-engineering our services delivery process to increase the quality and frequency of client communication to drive better results.
    7. Client Journey Maps are Magic. Tania Salarvand at Valeocon showed me how to create a visual diagram that maps every step of a client interaction. Seeing all the exchanges and touch points enabled me to streamline our own client journey, launched a reorganization of our team to deliver accordingly.
    8. Client Delighters Drive Growth. Terry Reynolds at Kleinfelder shared a story of shopping at three stores one of which stood out. They surprised him with a unique approach that created real delight. It also created a new client and a sale. Terry’s experience encouraged me to look for delighters that we can insert into our processes every day.
    9. 21st Century Businesses Must be Frictionless.  Geoff Colvin at Fortune Magazine discusses the concept of “frictionless” businesses – new ways of doing old things that simplify processes – taking all the bumps out of the path. Uber revolutionized the transportation market – and continues to threaten many other established businesses. Uber works because it’s EASY for the consumer. Every week at our weekly team meeting we now discuss where our clients see friction points, and discuss ways to remove the friction.
    10. Build a Habit Forming Business. Nir Eyal from Nir and Far reveals the four step process every game-changing application employs. In a decade, Facebook grew from nothing to actively engaging 20% of the world’s people on a daily basis – ever wonder how? I have taken the core insights from Nir’s research and begun to shape both our services and our products accordingly. Our clients succeed when they develop habits of engaging with us, and we succeed when they keep coming back for more.

    I certainly learned more than these ten things – but these are the concepts, ideas, and best practices that have actually caused me to change how I approach business, leadership, and the future.

    What are the concepts you have put into practice in 2015? If you’re not already registered, join us on December 15th for a complementary webinar and share your ideas (so I know what to work on next year).

  • Are You Okay? I Was Worried About You.

    Posted on November 19th, 2015 Ryan Suydam No comments

    Are You Okay? I Was Worried About You.

    That’s the first thing I heard from the receptionist at the dentist this morning. I had placed the appointment on my calendar an hour later than scheduled, and missed the visit.

    Rather than show any frustration at how I messed up the schedule (it was a big visit), the receptionist’s first reaction was concern for me. You see, it was raining quite hard this morning. She knows I have a 30-mile commute. And her reaction to my lateness was one of care and concern – about me.

    I’m sure my mistake caused problems. At the very least, they provided a dentist for two hours, and now he would not be billing those hours. We had to reschedule a visit for a few weeks out, so now they can’t sell those hours to someone else. Who knows what other challenges I inconvenienced them with.

    Faced with a client who showed up an hour late to a meeting (or missed it altogether), many of us would sigh, or acknowledge the extra work we have to do now. Many of us would take another tack, and put on a good face: “Oh, no problem at all! We had a REALLY busy day here too, so it’s really quite convenient of you to reschedule. Actually, it helps us out a lot.” I’ve done that many times myself.

    But I’ve never had a person in business say “Are you okay? I was worried about you.”

    I’ve used the two unexpected hours of free time to ponder this mind shift, one where our bias is to care and to genuinely be concerned for our clients. Those two simple sentences humbled me immediately. Here I am, a professional who helps other professionals elevate their care for clients. And yet, would I have ever gone so far as this – SHOWING a client I care more about their wellbeing than my schedule?

    The lesson is clear, but the application of the lesson less so. I appeal to you, readers, to contribute stories from your experience in business. When have you seen compassion like this in business? By citing example, perhaps we can all begin modeling transformational, differentiating care to our clients.

  • Blunt Proposal versus Positive Proposal

    Posted on August 13th, 2015 Mike Phillips No comments
    Blunt Proposal versus Positive Proposal

    I know, I’m the guy who’s always talking about why you should track your clients’ perceptions. But here’s a story I think might sound familiar. Its about a mistake we made that is probably too often made by other firms during the creation of a proposal. And, I hope it will help you from making the same mistake.

    Our firm had been building a relationship with a new prospective client for a while. We had spent time with them. We had asked questions to understand what their goals and needs really are. They had shared their concerns and challenges with us and we had guided them through how we collaborate with them to work through the challenges and to achieve their goals. We had stressed how we really cared about helping them. When we were ready to submit our proposal, our firm and the client felt confident we could help them have a positive outcome.

    Besides our submittal, the client wanted to see a proposal from the General Contractor who would work with us. So, we sat down with the General Contractor and went through everything. At the end of the meeting, I felt good about the fact we were all on the same page. They said they understood what was needed. They would be extremely helpful and would help our mutual client achieve their goals. So we asked them to preview their proposal to our client.

    I couldn’t believe it when I saw their proposal.Client Centered Focus

    What they sent us was a long list of prices for services included in the project and a very long list of what was not included. There was nothing about their understanding of the project and how they could help. It basically described the deliverables they would produce, instead of the help they would provide. Clients are hiring us to create deliverables, those are just means to an end. It is the end result they need from us. Instead of telling the client how collaborative they would be, their proposal was all about them and what they would and wouldn’t do.

    I called them and said we needed to talk. We needed to get our proposals better aligned and more focused on the client and their needs. I pulled out our proposal so I could show them what we were looking for the proposals to convey. When I looked at our proposal all I could say was, “I can’t believe it, we made the same mistake!

    It’s so easy to stay in our own heads, to look at our proposal more from our perspective than the client’s. We just do things the way we’ve always done them instead of looking at what we are intending to offer our clients. We don’t mean to. We really care about helping them achieve their goals. Our plan is to be collaborative with them. 

    But how often does the proposal they get from us say just the opposite?

    Communication can get off track with no one meaning for that to happen. That is why I believe it is so important to continue to track our clients’ perceptions over time. 

    Our research shows that the #1 thing clients want from us is an effective relationship. And what that means to them is meaningful communication and responsiveness. I didn’t say frequent communication. I said meaningful. There is a difference. At least from our clients’ perspective.

    Getting too focused on our processes happens to all of us. We get busy. The question is, do our processes let us hear from our clients in a meaningful way? A way to track that our project delivery process works for them? At Phillips, we understand that even though we communicate with our clients regularly, using a process that tracks their perceptions of that process and gives them an easy way to let us know if they would like any changes, is critical because we are so busy.

    I wanted to tell this story on myself because I think it is so important. I suspect something similar has happened to some or all of you as well.

    Download this complimentary webinar “Build Client Loyalty and Avoid Surprises”. In the webinar I’ll share how to identify each of your clients’ hot buttons. And how to tell immediately if they change. It’s easy to ensure you are always meeting or exceeding your clients’ expectations and I need not tell you of the obvious benefits that will have for your firm.

    Mike Phillips AIA, is a national speaker on the topic of building client loyalty through aligning with client perceptions. He has spoken numerous times for PSMJ, Zweig White, ROG, ACEC, and AIA. He has also been published in PSMJ and AEMA journals. Mike has been running a successful architectural firm for more than 30 years. He understands the impact on marketing, staff retention, performance, and profitability when you don’t know what your clients are thinking.

  • Avoid Commoditization – Tell A Story

    Posted on February 24th, 2015 Sally Orcutt No comments
    Avoid Commoditization - Tell A Story

    It’s not what you do – it is the experience you provide.

    When was the last time you attended an industry meeting that did NOT highlight the plight of commoditization?

    Dictionary.com defines the word:  “almost total lack of meaningful differentiation in the goods (or services) provided“.

    So how do you avoid commoditization and differentiate your firm? What can you do to stand out from your peers?

    Beyond all the marketing tricks and branding exercises, real differentiation happens at the experiential level. It’s not what you do for your clients, but rather how you do it.

    We know quality service when we see or feel it. When you share stories about times you received excellent service, do you talk about what they did? Or how it felt? Remembering that excellent hotel stay – you describe it as “inviting” the staff as “friendly” and the bed as “comfortable.” None of these words are objective features – they are subjective experiences you perceived.

    Your clients are people just like you. When they talk about your firm, they are not saying “Wow, ACME Engineering really got the sewer pipes to line up perfectly”. They are saying “Wow, ACME Engineering took really good care of us. They understood why we needed to complete this phase of the project on a fast track and they made it happen. There helped us manage the scope, anticipate challenges, and solve construction problems. They were easy to get hold of and followed up on any questions we had really quickly”.

    There is the ‘meaningful difference’. When you understand the story behind the project, you are more than ‘the firm that put the pipes in the ground’. You are the firm that cared enough to really grasp what was important to your client. You are the firm who took care of them.

    Without understanding the story your clients tell, the project risks becoming internally focused on your goals rather than the client’s goals. With the story, you are a part of the vision, and your client’s goals become your goals. With the story, you are aligned. You are partners.

    Download “The Power of Storytelling for Your Firm”, a 90-minute Webinar from Client Feedback Tool co-founder Ryan Suydam. Ryan outlines the importance of storytelling, methods for gathering stories, tips for using stories internally to improve staff and culture, and best practices for using stories externally in marketing, business development, and project delivery.

     

  • How Can I Turn my Project Managers Into Business Developers?

    Posted on January 28th, 2015 Ryan Suydam No comments
    How Can I Turn my Project Managers Into Business Developers?

    What an age old question. How do we create an organizational mindset among technical staff to be business developers? How do we support them, and hold them accountable? Tough questions no doubt – but a solution may be easier than you think.

    In a professional SERVICES company, the service you provide – the experience your clients have – is your brand. There is no better marketing and selling activity than taking great care of clients. If you’re like most of the industry, 85% or more of your work is from repeat clients.

    Managing expectations (asking for feedback) is a logical starting point. Anyone can do it (yes, even an engineer!). We started our company out of an architecture firm, and designed our processes and tools specifically for project managers. No one has more influence over client retention than the front-line staff. When project managers ask the right questions, at the right times, and take action on the information – each client feels valued and important.

    More critically, each client will recognize the project manager as his expert. When a client latches onto one of your PM’s as the expert, the client is much more likely to tell others about what a great expert he has. After all, the client helped create that expert by giving feedback. Word gets around, and suddenly people are asking how they can get access to the expert. Your project managers become business developers without even trying.

    Some people are never going to go out and use traditional “sales” techniques to find and develop new relationships. The “become an expert” approach not only makes these often introverted technical people feel great about their work, but it’s a natural way for them to develop existing and new business based on relationship and referrals.

    Consider this scenario:

    One of your strongest project managers has been working with a great client for a couple years. They know each other well, the work is going smoothly, and there’s no sign of trouble. Momentum keeps the relationship going with little investment, and everyone is complacent about the status quo.

    Now, introduce a dose of feedback. With a Client Feedback Tool survey, the project managers asks the client how an active project is progressing. The client responds, and raves about the work. We knew they would – it’s a good relationship. We confirmed our assumptions. But… we now have evidence that we are creating real value.

    As soon as the client responds, the response is sent to the project manager. Based on the positive results, the project manager, who would have no other “reason” to call the client, can do so. He’s following-up to thank the client for the feedback; he acknowledges that he also finds the relationship positive and valuable. And while they’re talking about successes, the project manager naturally asks the question: “Do you know anyone else we could help like this?”

    Seeking out new business opportunities is no longer an awkward call that a project manager dreads.  It’s a natural extension to an easy and positive conversation. And it comes with a built in recommendation!

    The objective of any feedback program, especially one powered primarily through electronic methods, is to initiate conversations with clients. When a client responds, don’t delay – follow-up and keep a conversation going. Celebrate successes or address challenges right away. Use the phone, meetings, and other existing communication tools to do so. When a client doesn’t respond, follow-up! Use that as a great opportunity to check in and verify they got the feedback request, and assure everything is going well.

    For many of us, starting the conversation is the hardest part. And starting conversations is really what business development is.

    How do you make project managers better business developers? Give them an easy process to start the conversations, and the insights they need to do a great job for their clients.

    You’ll have better clients (and more of them), happier project managers, and a better firm because of it.

  • I’m Losing Clients and I Don’t Know Why

    Posted on May 27th, 2014 Sally Orcutt No comments

    We’re really pleased to have guest columnist Shari Harley share her insights on creating candid relationships with your clients. Shari is the author of How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide for Building Business Relationships that Really Work and is founder and president of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace.

    We’ve all had clients we thought were satisfied, and yet the next month, they’re off our books and we don’t know why. Your clients are under no obligation to tell you why they replaced you. In fact, without establishing the expectations for genuine communication at the outset, it’s easier for clients to disappear than to tell you what they don’t like about your services.

    It’s fine to get fired by a client. You might even make more money, with fewer headaches, if certain clients would take their business elsewhere. But it’s not fine, nor is it necessary, to be surprised by defections. Almost every defection is predictable and preventable when you have candid relationships with all of your clients.

    How can you develop client relationships so that clients will tell you the truth when they’re dissatisfied and give you a chance to retain their business? Here are a few suggestions from my new book, How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work.

    When kicking off new client relationships, tell your clients what to expect. Say, “We’re excited to be working with you. If we work together long enough, we’re going to make mistakes. We’d like the kind of relationship where you can tell us what is and isn’t working. Please know that we appreciate your feedback, and we’ll say ‘thank you.'”

    When is the last time one of your vendors admitted they’re human, told you up front that they know they’ll make mistakes, genuinely wanted your feedback, and promised not to get defensive when they got it? This kind of open dialogue will make your firm stand out and differentiate you from other equally technically qualified firms.

    The next step in the relationship-building process is to ask your clients questions that your competitors aren’t asking. The conversation might sound something like, “I want to be sure we’re meeting your needs and don’t want to have to guess what’s important to you. Can I ask you a couple of questions?”

    Here are a few questions I suggest asking:

    1. Who else did you consider hiring?
    2. Why did you hire us instead?
    3. How will you know we’re doing a good job? What does success look like?
    4. What are your pet peeves? What could we do that would annoy you?
    5. How often do you want to meet, and what should we discuss during our meetings?
    6. Are you a big-picture person or more detail-oriented?
    7. Do you want to meet in person or over the phone?
    8. How do you like to receive information? Printed, voicemail, email, or via text message?

    You can learn much of the aforementioned information over time by observing your clients’ behavior. But why wait? By the time you’ve observed clients’ preferences, chances are you’ve made mistakes that they aren’t likely to tell you about.

    Asking these questions is not a one-time event. Tell your clients, “I’m going to check in with you several times a year. Know that I genuinely want your honest feedback. We can’t fix problems that we don’t know exist.”

    Then you actually have to ask. Telling a client you’re going to ask for feedback and then not doing so is worse than saying nothing at all. Also, please don’t ask, “How are things going?” “How is it going” is a greeting, not a question. It’s vague. And if you ask a vague question, you’ll get a vague answer.

    Ask specific questions quarterly. Remind your clients that you really want their feedback. Promise them you’ll say “thank you.” If you become defensive – which is a very human and normal thing to do – apologize and do better next time. Every time you make it difficult to tell you the truth, you train people to replace you instead of giving you a chance to retain their business.

    When a senior leader humbles himself and connects directly with clients, this is perceived as a great value by the client. In my experience, clients will tell you the truth when you ask and make it clear that you really want to hear the answers.

    Asking for specific feedback and saying thank you is a true differentiator for your firm. And in my experience, few, if any, business owners are doing it. Not only will you establish stronger relationships with your clients by making it safe to tell you the truth, you’ll set yourself apart from your competitors.

    This guest column previously appeared in The Friedman Files in December 2013. Our thanks to Rich Friedman, Client Feedback Tool partner and President of Friedman & Partners and Shari Harley, president of Candid Culture, for sharing this with us. Client Feedback Tool is a recognized expert in the feedback business, particular for the A/E/C industry. Founded as an extension of an architectural firm, we remain committed to providing useful information to help firms build client loyalty.

    Want additional information on setting up a client feedback program:

    • Register for Complimentary PSMJ/Deltek/CFT Webinar featuring Collins & Burns and McDonnell – June 5 at 1:30 EST
    • Visit our website: www.clientfeedbacktool.com
    • Email: answers@clientfeedbacktool.com
    • Contact us toll free: 1-866-433-7322
  • Uncover what’s hidden (and other tips to increase your firm’s value)

    Posted on April 30th, 2014 Ryan Suydam No comments
    Uncover what's hidden (and other tips to increase your firm's value)

    Increase your Client’s Perception of your value

    You win a project and sit down at the kickoff meeting with your client. You discuss meeting frequency, deliverables, schedule and expectations. Everybody is positive and excited. Your client is convinced they hired the right firm for this project and everybody believes the project will be a success.

    Fast forward several months. You have finished the project and are asking your client to let you know how things went. You are surprised to see that a member of their team gave you a ‘did not meet expectations’ rating on schedule. Sure, there was one set of deliverables that were a week later than originally planned but you and the client’s project manager had discussed this and understood the delays were really due to workload on their side.

    What do you do now? You could go back and explain that the delay was really on their end but that doesn’t seem like such a terrific idea. The reality is, this project is complete and the client’s perception (at least for one individual) is that your firm missed a deadline. It is not possible to go back and undo or adjust this perception.

    Client Feedback Tool recommends that, as a best practice, you measure client expectations throughout a project. Only by capturing client perceptions early can you actively manage those perceptions and change outcomes to everyone’s advantage. Following are 5 advantages of this approach:

    Uncover the hidden. In spite of your best efforts, your client made some assumptions when you began the project that they likely did not share with you. They know what is most valuable to them and just assume you do as well. Measuring client expectations regularly lets you uncover those hidden assumptions, respond to them, and become their expert.

    What’s measured improves. You measure profitability, utilization rates, backlog, etc. Simply by measuring your client’s perceptions throughout the project, you will find their perceptions will improve because your performance will improve. Automatically.

    Builds client-centric culture. Staff know that your firm measures the metrics that are really important. Using an ongoing feedback process to measure client perceptions puts increased focus on client interactions. Staff will have their antennae up, looking for the unusual, and will typically reach out to clients even before you ask for feedback.

    Earlier problem identification. When a problem does arise on a project, the fact that you asked while there was still time to make a course correction decreases future problems and increases your value to the client. In fact, our research has proven that when you ask for feedback and follow up, problems are reduced by 83%.

    Increases staff satisfaction and retention. Most feedback is positive and encouraging. Your clients will demonstrate their appreciation and give you the opportunity to recognize your staff for the good work they do. Research shows that one of key drivers for staff retention is acknowledgment of the individual’s value and contributions. Letting your clients praise your key employees creates a win-win for everyone.

    Want to learn more about asking your clients for feedback, scheduling an online Demo by calling us at 1-866-433-7322 or visiting our website at www.clientfeedbacktool.com.

  • Feedback Quadrant – The Missing Axis of Information

    Posted on April 9th, 2010 Ryan Suydam No comments
    Feedback Quadrant - The Missing Axis of Information

    If you manage a professional services firm, or any projects for a firm, you have most likely seen numerous reports, charts, and other data measuring the financial performance of your project, team, client, or firm.  You have surely seen metrics of profitability, revenue, aged accounts, and more, usually mapped across an axis of time (monthly revenue, for example).

    However, none of these reports show the critical element of the client’s perception of a project’s success.  What may be highly successful for you (in terms of profits, etc) may have been a disaster for the client.  Without metrics showing the clients’ measure of project success, you have little ability to identify the truly successful projects, those that are “half way”, and those that are complete failures (or, at the very least, quite challenged).

    The missing axis of data is feedback.  Feedback provides metrics, from your clients’ perspective, about the success of a project.

    If we map feedback performance on a vertical axis, and financial performance on a horizontal axis, four quadrants of information are created.

    Tracking Project Results

    In the upper-right quadrant, the data points indicate a win-win scenario.  The outcomes of these projects indicate success for both you (high profit) and the client (high feedback).  You can profitably produce a project that meets and exceeds the expectations of the person paying for that project.  Clients in this quadrant should be nurtured and efforts invested to keep this healthy exchange going forward.

    In the upper-left quadrant, the data points still indicate success for the client (high feedback), but the process used to deliver the service hasn’t adequately obtained financial success for you or the firm.  Inefficiency, under-billing, or other business problems may exist.  Most likely, these clients whose expectations were exceeded are very interested in keeping you as a vendor, and will likely be open to future projects being priced and/or scoped more beneficially for you.  Test this carefully, but with confidence.

    The lower-right quadrant provides a bigger challenge.  Here, you have succeeded (high profits), but your client indicates a less successful outcome for them (low feedback).  These clients and projects are critical to keep (they’re very profitable!) but need attention invested into the client relationship.  You may use additional feedback collection (either via the Client Feedback Tool or personal interactions) to uncover underlying problems and negotiate winning solutions.  Increase service consistency and quality, and you can more easily maintain these enjoyable profits.

    Finally, the lower-left quadrant leaves a group of mis-fits.  Here, neither you (low profits) nor the client (poor feedback) won.  You have a lot of options, from firing the client, to strategically working on these clients to first increase their feedback scores.  Only after first building client loyalty and improving service can you then recoup that investment by increasing fees and profitability.  The “keepers” in this quadrant should be diligently moved “up” before moving them to the “right.”

    The Client Feedback Tool offers a unique feature enabling you to map your client feedback against your financial metrics.  Navigate to “Review Feedback > Advanced Reporting Tools” then click on the “View” tab.  Finally, click the “Quadrants” icon on the View ribbon.  You will be able to download a smart, macro-enabled Excel worksheet containing your selected feedback data (select this in the Filters and Options tabs).  Provided in the workbook is a place you copy/paste or manually key-in your financial data (profitability, revenue, etc).  From here, the workbook will generate tables for each quadrant as well as a graphic display of the results to see where your projects, clients, etc are clustered.

  • Watch Your Blind Spot!

    Posted on January 5th, 2010 Ryan Suydam No comments
    Watch Your Blind Spot!

    You’re driving down the highway, and the car in front of you is going too slowly.  You would like to go faster.   Looking around, you decide that moving to the left lane will let you get ahead.  Seems like a good decision so you go for it – after all, who doesn’t want to get there faster?  You obey all traffic laws, use your signal, and slide over.

    Except, you didn’t see the car in your blind spot.  If you’re lucky, he sees you and honks, avoiding disaster.  But if he’s busy yapping on his cell phone or otherwise focused, kaboom!  Your easy solution to speed things up just blew up, leaving you in quite a mess.  Your car is mangled; it’s going to take hours to sort out; you’ve got a very irate driver in the other car (hopefully not injured), and there’s no way you’re going to make that meeting now.  Oh, yeah, and there’s the increased insurance premiums, the lawsuit, and hours of work over the coming weeks and months to sort out all the financial and legal issues.

    This was totally avoidable, if you had just checked your blind spot!

    If you work on projects for a client, the same story holds true.

    How often have you been working on a project, and part way in, you realize there’s a “better” or “faster” way to get things done.  Of course your client wants his project better and faster, so you “change lanes” and start doing things a bit differently.  You innovate every day – it’s how you solve the problems needed to get projects done.  You are constantly changing, adapting and adjusting your processes to “get there faster/better/cheaper.”  You have to, just to meet the demands of your clients and be competitive in your market.

    However, have you checked your blind spot?  Do you always include your client in these process adjustments, to let him know what you’re doing and why?  Most of the time, your client will appreciate that you’ve adjusted and innovated for his benefit.  Does he know you’ve done so?  If not, let him know so he can appreciate the value you are adding.

    But what about those times when the process doesn’t work for your client?  Your bright idea didn’t factor in some information your client knows (that you don’t) which will cause a wreck?  Assuming nothing can go wrong is a costly and risky proposition.   What you must do is check your blind spot!  Get feedback from your clients constantly throughout the project.  If you shift gears in order to “improve” the project, schedule, or budget – let your client know and get validation that the changes really are an enhancement.   Otherwise, you risk running into your client, and damaging not just the project delivery, but your very valuable client relationship.

    To read more about feedback and your blind spot, check out my post on the Johari Window.

  • Johari Window, Part II

    Posted on September 21st, 2009 Ryan Suydam No comments
    Johari Window, Part II

    I blogged about the Johari Window a few months ago here. In summary, the Johari Window is a very simple and quick exercise that any two (or more) people can engage to give and receive feedback quickly, simply, and openly.  I’ve recently come across two online implementations that are fun and easy to use.

    For those social media fans out there, you can use the Facebook application to share feedback with your friends and associates.  What you might learn about yourself is worth the effort.

    If you don’t do the Facebook thing, you can use a stand-alone web version.  No registration or hoops required, but it takes a bit more work to invite others to participate.

    If you haven’t already, experiment with the Johari Window with some friends, family, and/or coworkers.  After filling out the form and comparing notes, a discussion to understand the results may prove even more enlightening.

    Ask for and give feedback daily!