As Change Management consultants, our top priority is to add value to the clients we serve. In order to add value for a client, we must first identify what the client values. This notion seems obvious, but over and over again consulting firms let other factors define value and drive their consultation. As Ben Hartman outlines in his book, The Lean Farm, which I highly recommend for a good foundation of knowledge to add client value, there are four distortions that we should avoid when identifying what the client values.
1. Technology Fascination
Firms get bogged down with new data management systems, the top rated team collaboration tool, or fancy presentation programs, just to name a few examples. Although new technology can assist in adding value, it is not always what is best for tackling the project at hand. Firms should invest in new technology only when it clearly creates more value than the cost for the client.
2. Product Fascination
Don't assume that the client will want the project plans you produce for them. Your firm may be fascinated with Lean Six Sigma, but is that what is best for your client? Just because we want to add value for our clients in a certain way, doesn't mean it is what they want, or what is best for their current project.
3. Process Fascination
Along the same lines, don't let your firm's fascination with process obscure what the client really wants. Say your team can minimize their workload yet still increase overall output for their client. Does this add significant value for the client? Or, does this just decrease the amount of effort your team must undergo to complete their tasks? Adding value for your team doesn't necessarily translate to adding value for the client.
4. Letting Supply Determine Value
Assume your firm has a well-developed knowledge database that holds solution materials for all sorts of projects a client may have. The client approaches you with a project that aligns well to one of the pre-developed solutions in your database. Just because this solution is at the ready, don't assume that it will create the most value for the client. More often than not, a solution must be tailored to maximize value add for a client.
By being aware of the 4 distortions to avoid when identifying client values, your firm will not only connect better with clients, but will be more likely to deliver successful solutions for any project that may arise.
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