Talking to customers is always teaches me new ways of looking at the industry I’m in. I don’t talk to as many customers as I used to, but when I do, it is interesting how many companies, be they large and established or small and emerging, are focused on the problems of now.
I’ve talked about the different perspectives on the problems of now that I have seen in my industry (here and here), but if you ask any consultant or analyst, similar questions can be traced through any company/organization in any industry/sector.
I always look at the problems of now as a passing fad. As I answer each question, a new one would arise, appearing from the ashes of the previous one. To prevent endless flailing about, dancing from question to question like a tactical pinball, I ask the most important question of any scoping process as early as I can:
What does a successful engagement look like to you?
Innocuous. Simplistic. But powerfully effective. Putting this simple question into the scoping process helps the customer explain to you how you’re going to help them be successful, because they know what success means to them.
What applies in the macro can often trickle-down to the personal. I am notorious for not having a “plan” – I have driven a number of Type A (A+++?) managers to madness with my lack of a plan. But I know what success means to me; I just leave the details of how I achieve it open-ended.
Have you considered what success looks like to you?