Client Feedback Tool
  • Client Success Story: Building Relational Equity

    Posted on January 21st, 2016 Ryan Suydam No comments

    Mike Pierce at The Austin Company writes about the concept of Building Relational Equity. This is a must read piece for anyone serious about understanding and improving client relationships.

    Please comment below – what are your experiences building (or losing) relational equity?


  • What is your ‘best project’ story?

    Posted on August 13th, 2014 Darren Smith No comments
    What is your 'best project' story?

    I had been working with the leaders of this firm for several months on the benefits of collaboration on project schedule, budget, and team satisfaction. We had shared ‘best project’ stories and agreed those were the projects where everything went smoothly and all members of the team just seemed to do what needed to be done to create a positive outcome. They wanted to create ‘best project stories’ on all their projects so they asked team members working on one of their large projects this question. 

    “How would you rate the overall collaboration on your team?”

    They found that almost 50% of those responding said the team’s collaboration was about what they expected. It met their expectations. Another roughly 19% exceeded expectations. Good news.

    But the leaders focused in on the top 27%. They wanted to understand what about the experience for these individuals had them rate the team’s collaboration as “Exceptional” or “Excellent”? For these team members, this was one of the ‘best project stories’. The leaders wanted to understand the behavior, quantify it (if possible), and spread it around like peanut butter to the other members of their project teams.Collaboration

    I worked with the leaders to dig deeper. They spoke with team members to better understand what, for them, made the project feel more collaborative than they expected. When we pulled together the information, we recognized the team had set up Rules of Engagement. Of course, they didn’t use that label, but their discussions and actions had the same impact. They managed their team interactions effectively and efficiently and created a positive experience for the team overall.

    So what did they do, and how can you (and they) spread these behaviors around?

    Rules of Engagement are the operational and relational rules that create ‘best project’ stories. Although oversimplified, the difference between the two are that operational rules provide team accountability and relational rules provide team strength.

    Behind operational rules is the idea that for a project to run smoothly rules must be established? How will communication be handled, deadlines be met, and deliverables reviewed. What are the rewards for the individual of adhering to those rules? What are the consequences if they do not? Think about a project that ran over budget (or schedule), did it have operational rules in place? Was there a breakdown in any of the rules? Were there consequences to the individual(s) involved?

    Relational rules serve a different purpose. Getting the relational rules right means identifying the skills and talents needed to make your project run smoothly (and profitably)? Then, take that knowledge and put together the strongest possible team of individuals you can. And, for those of you with multiple office locations, don’t forget that the skills and talents you need may not be sitting right in front of you. Be sure the person’s role on the team will allow them to use their talents. If your project is complex, it is not only a good idea to have someone whose talents include organization on the team, they must serve in a role where they can bring that expertise to the project.

    Learn more about using Rules of Engagement on your next project. Click here to download a 50-minute webinar that will increase the likelihood that all of your projects will run smoothly (and more profitably).

    Darren Smith (founder and CEO of CIMA Strategic) is a collaboration subject matter expert. He helps successful executives in design, construction, and healthcare elevate their leadership and energize their strategy & business development implementation through collaboration. Darren has conducted business in 20 countries across 10 industries. His clients include HKS Architects, The Society of Petroleum Engineers, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Toyota. 

  • Feedback Case Study: Discovering Expectations Early

    Posted on March 31st, 2009 Ryan Suydam 1 comment
    Feedback Case Study: Discovering Expectations Early

    Feedback collected early in a project’s lifecycle critically affects many projects to better results. Marc Christopher and Jason Byrd, architects at Phillips Architecture in Raleigh, NC, share an experience that occurred in the schematic design phase of a new activity center for a local church.

    Having used a previously successful process to collect programming information about the project, Marc and Jason met with the client to review the initial schematic designs. The meeting went smoothly, and both left feeling the project was on track. However, after a survey was sent to the eight participants, two attendees rated the efforts “needing improvement.”

    Surprised, Jason quickly followed up, and discovered that these project participants hadn’t been through an architectural project of this nature before – and therefore had no basis to set expectations for what a schematic design was, nor what the deliverables from that phase included. After some discussion (and education) everyone was up to speed. Subsequent surveys revealed a very high level of excellence, consistently exceeding the client’s more informed expectations. The project resolved successfully. Of the experience, Jason says, “Had we never sent a survey requesting feedback, we would have been oblivious to the client’s feelings as to where we stood to date.” Armed with this information, Jason could adjust expectations accordingly by walking through the project’s process clearly.

    Taking the lesson learned more broadly, Marc and Jason now approach new projects differently. Rather than take for granted an understanding of the architectural project’s process and deliverables, an initial project conversation is held to:

    • Clearly quantify expectations for the next deliverable.
    • Establish a clear timeline to meet those expectations.
    • Communicate any deviations in advance.

    “While these items may seem obvious, we sometimes take for granted that we are delivering in accordance with our clients expectations, ” says Marc.

    Recent projects have accordingly seen consistently high marks across the board, as the improved processes are taking place.