Weeknotes, 3rd February 2023

Taking clients on the journey, and telling them what they already know.
Weeknotes

Taking clients on the journey

I’m working on a project with a lovely hefty discovery phase: a big content audit, and lots of user and stakeholder interviews. In this scenario, I’d often drop the client a few juicy hints about what I’m learning, but save most of the insight for a big reveal in the form of a presentation and a report. But I’m not so sure that’s the right approach anymore. For one thing, it’s not very agile. For another, this client sensibly called out at the beginning that they want to have their own track of work alongside mine to make sure they’re preparing for change internally. So this time I’m taking them on the journey with me. By giving them the insights as they emerge, letting them see my messy notes, and spreadsheets, they’re hopefully getting more time to reflect and consider wider implications, and more time to engage with the stakeholders and partners who’ll help ship this successfully.

Telling them what they already know

Working through all this data and pulling out the insights has also reminded me how often the discovery phase of of project involves telling clients things they already know. Which makes it sound like a waste of time. But it isn’t. It’s less telling them what they already know, and more going out and confirming their hypothesis. A lot of the time I find my clients already have a good idea of what the issues and opportunities are. Sometimes I shock them, but it’s pretty rare. They’re not out of touch with what’s going on, they’re out of time to investigate it. I have the luxury of time and remit to go and do the digging needed to confirm their hunch, and add a load of data and context to help move them closer to a solution. The other thing I add – tooting my own horn for a second – is a different viewpoint on those opportunities and challenges. It’s partly about having a lot of experience and having seen things before, but also about being good at reframing the issue and helping them to see things from a new angle.

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