Client Engagements – Full of Whipped Cream and Lumpy Gravy

So why did I call this blog post “client engagement- full of whipped cream and lumpy gravy?” Often both are ‘heaped’ onto the poor (final) solution found underneath the client- consulting engagement process. Both are layered on to mask the truth that the ones responsible don’t really understand how to make this process really work.

Managing innovation suffers from this an awful lot. We do need to understand all the ingredients that make up innovation, often we just try to’ top’ them off, failing to understand everything that needs to become part of the final solution.

I’m sure many of you have witnessed or been involved in poor client- consulting engagements. Often the root cause of poor end results within this process stems from a poorly structured engagement briefing process – my lumpy gravy. This creates the effect of creating many problems in delivering back not the best advice or solution to the real problem, offering up the lashings of whipped cream to cover up the bland solution dish underneath.

The engagement process does still rankle for me as it causes many of the difficulties and tensions within the emotions that many projects seem to swing through –  trusted and distrusted — loved and despised — all in equal measure where many variations could be reduced with a little thinking and challenging.

Avoiding some of the pitfalls

So I thought I’d take a  look at some of the problems within the client – consulting engagement process that can mask what is really lying underneath.

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Shifting attitudes, think responsibly.

ask questions figureHow do we engage within our own internal organizational communities? How do we communicate our sense of purpose to the outside world? How do we integrate all the activities we are (or should be) undertaking as responsible leaders?

Are we working towards understanding the material sustainability issues better and linking them to financial drivers and where we fit within these complex issues?

There is such an increasing need to develop or simply updating our business language to build stronger cases for change, improvement and broader community engagement but these still seem to be missing. How are organizations aligning their organizations not just with their own strategies but those in the wider world that contribute into a more sustaining future? We are needing to answer a fair few of these questions in my opinion.

The lack of engagement, of common understanding

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Finding our true purpose

Finding True PurposeDon’t let anyone tell you it is easy to run your own business, it is far from that. I thought I’d write about what and where it has meaning for me in this “finding our true purpose”. Here are some of my thoughts, some a little raw, others well-baked, even some half-baked!.

Running your own business is full of uncertainty, doubt and risk. Equally, though, you have a level of independence and this does permit you to respond quickly. It can offer higher degrees of flexibility, allows you to pursue what you think clients really want, not what others above you are imposing as template solutions, or their personal views. Finally, you can explore the options to deliver, as in my case,  services, in your own unique style that often work far better for clients needs.

You are not accountable to anyone, apart from the wife and the bank manager, always looking a little harder at you, that small business owner needing to deliver. In between these two ends of independence and the uncertainty from the dependence a few clients you might be relient on constantly moving the goal posts, there are quite frankly, lots of raw emotions. The best part, for me, is a growing confidence that I am operating many times in the ‘zone’ of client needs, that they require out of innovation. The downside I have to admit is there is an awful lot of hard work that needs to go into this so as to get you there.

My Business Model gets a constant bashing.

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Innovation can be so remarkable if we can fully embrace it

What is so remarkable about innovation is that it can be highly dynamic.  It’s a task that anyone could do, given the time, education, clarity of purpose and commitments from our organizations, those that recognize the true understanding of the contribution all their people can potentially make towards innovation.

Today, too few people are actually allowed to work on innovation activities, yet the outcomes are ones that everyone wants, and certainly want to be part of. We all want that sense of belonging, of working on or in something that is exciting, dynamic and forward-looking. We really do need to find ways to allow innovation to be part of each person’s daily jobs. Having a sense of purpose to improve or change something through innovation is such a powerful enabler.

Getting from where we are today, seemingly bogged down in many of the legacies of past innovation understanding, seems to me something we must tackle sooner than later also. There is no time like the present to overhaul the existing innovation thinking and upgrade it with a faster, more focused innovating machine that yields greater returns due to this overhaul .

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The transforming tide in digital for innovation.

Digital Discovery 2Can you imagine the CEO sitting opposite the consultant, explaining the organizations present difficulties to regain growth, no matter what they are doing through the existing practices and the assorted business approaches they have taken for many years, they still seem to be ‘treading water’ or even losing ground. They are beginning to worry seriously about their future.

The consultant has heard this already so many time before  across many worried organizations. He looks right into the CEO’s eyes and (sort of) snarls back: “You can run but you can’t hide”. This was a famous quote attributed to Joe Louis before one of his boxing fights back in 1946.That might get a CEO’s attention! We are in a digital transformation evolution.

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A time for new innovating buttons and threads

Buttons and thread Ten years ago I was in a collaboration effort with one of the major consulting firms on a concept called “button and threads”. It caught my imagination and a number of important people in the Singapore authority  the Economic Development Board , those responsible for providing the focal point in economic development where business, innovation and talent are nurtured. The “button and thread” concept was considered, partly for its simplicity in concept but its significant underlying value.

Regretfully the proposal died around the boardroom which was such a pity as it would have been years ahead of others. The idea was the more buttons you had connected, the more threads were created. It was through the integration of technologies and market creation, the missing ingredient is the means of designing them to help shape (and speed up) more effectively business evolution.

The idea was working on harnessing the intelligent use of the growing connections through better ‘adaptive’ agents to co-evolve, building connected relationships, adding to better judgement and decisions, positioning the organization into far more adaptive enterprise working in a thriving ecosystem.

At the time I wrote ““The existing dilemma is how to find, attract and build new sources of competitive positions within an innovative eco-system. This is how to set about and organize the environment to capitalize on the existing (and new) resources within a rapidly changing opportunity environment those investors will prefer to existing eco-systems? Continue reading