If you are an expert inside an organization or a consultant / supplier of knowledge services, you probably find it hard to resist offering opinions informed by your skills or process.
All the more so when you are among your fellow experts. If you are preparing for a meeting, or debriefing at the end of a meeting, you are likely talking about the issue largely in the context of your skill/ knowledge. After all, that’s why they pay you!!
How do we purposefully think beyond our perception of value – what we do – and think of the value for the user of our services?
A value proposition is the marriage of our skills (the product or service features we produce) and the needs and perceptions of the user/client. It’s about the benefits they acquire, not just the process in which both sides engage. At its best, it is a collaboration that results in good outcomes for the buyer (who are equally a colleague or a boss).
‘Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.’ – Viktor Frankl
What if every outcome is determined by the client and/or is different every time? Sure, we are not producing a widget, but an infinitely variable set of possibilities. Every interaction is a prototype.
‘A powerful question alters all thinking and behaving that occurs afterwards.’ – Marilee Goldberg
Here’s some solution focused approaches to make sure the client is getting value – all the time.
Is it possible for the client to know exactly what they want? Rarely.
Ask: Suppose the problem/issue goes away, how do you see us (the supplier) being valuable / useful to you? What else?
Should the expert surrender their skills simply to please the customer? Probably not. So, start with the desired outcomes.
Ask: Suppose the project is a success, what will you see yourselves doing (better, differently, more of)? What else?
Should the expert be thinking beyond the immediate pressures of the process? For sure.
Ask: When you have worked on this sort of project in the past, what worked? What else was of value?
Is it the role of the expert to help the client to constantly clarify their goals as the work unfolds? For sure.
Ask: Now that we’ve achieved X, how do you see that helping with the project goals? What else? What needs to be better / different? What one or two barriers to success remain and what would you see us doing differently to continue making progress and creating value? What else?
Is it the role of the expert to constantly listen to the client and show they are listening? Absolutely.
Ask: You asked us to do X, Y and Z. I’ve noticed that you stated you are making progress. How do you see that being of value to you so far? What else?
How do you define value for your client / boss while practicing your expertise?