Some years back I came across a visual suggestion of what a client engagement should entail. I had been for years ‘casting around’ looking for something that gives the process a good structure and clarity. So I reworked it for my ‘ideal’ way to approach the client engagement process needed for my innovation work and made it into this visual.
Take a look below as my preferred way to approach innovation in any engagement.
The critical discovery phase I regard as vital
For me, the more you invest in the pre-contribution, the discovery phase, the higher likelihood of better results that meets both the ‘known’ and ‘unseen’ innovation issues. The problem or dilemma we all have engaging with clients is that ‘until the clock is running’ and we have a signed commitment, these investments in scoping are often (perhaps always) understated by the client, misunderstood by the advisor and no fees or solutions have been generated.
Nobody likes that but it is often a mistaken false economy.
Partly the client can get too close to the (immediate) problem and can’t “see the forest for the trees,”often never recognizing the intangibles that make up so much of innovation. Also partly they don’t have the complete picture or don’t invest enough time themselves in thinking this through thoroughly enough before they seek external help.
On the advisory side, OK, we all have gone though (sometimes painfully) adjustments in scope but often those final proposals made without a proper discovery become a real sore spot by others within the organization, let alone within the clients. Also not knowing before you ‘jump’ in does not help build relationships or deliver the results expected
Also as an example, those with less vested interest in the result but only are responsible for the corporate procurement part, often like to judge the milestones against payments and apply sometimes their restricted knowledge against this suddenly ‘rigid’ (cast in stone) proposal, allowing for little flexibility.
The better the discovery phase, where ‘skin’ on both sides is in the frame, the better. You reduce conflicts and loss of time in any renegotiation and give more time to the project, not in justifying changes and the reason for increasing costs.
The argument for this pre-investment is more relevant for innovation work
My argument to overcome this is making a request, often as a ‘must have,’ of getting some client investment in Dollars or Euro’s for investing in a more robust “discovery” phase as shown below, in its two distinct parts. This becomes especially important for innovation as it can reveal much unseen or poorly recognized as that essential needed value to be the real difference in successful innovation or not. It can also offer real value to the client for evaluating alternatives and (revised) agenda setting for the work going forward on a more complete view and clearer mandate of scoped work.
Then and only then, you generate the scoping document and the clients attention, engagement, better identification of the places for return on investment and general satisfaction, rises significantly.
This process makes sense to me
Hopefully it does for you as well? As for the clients, well realistically it is sometimes a tough sell and you run the risk he takes the discovery and goes elsewhere. This would certainly not be the first time this happens, irrespective, unless you have some form of lock-in and I find MOU’s always should incorporate a clear mutuality in them to reduce this risk and allow for that greater horse power of combined intellectual property emerging from this discovery investment.
So it looks on first view complicated perhaps?
I think as you explore the stages of Discovery, Generation, Conversion, Diffusion & Acceptance its steps offer a clear client engagement roadmap and expectations can be managed through this. I feel it raises the confidence within the relationship.
Sadly I’ve lost the original one somewhere deep in my files, when I find it I’ll attribute this accordingly, as it gave much of the structure shown above and it just resonated with me. Sometimes switching computers messes the essential brain source!