As a strategic consulting firm, counsel is only as good as it is palatable to our clients. Some might interpret that as requiring that we supply strategic insight that adds value to our clients. While that is at the core of what we do, it isn’t what I am referring to.
What I mean is that a great idea can’t penetrate an organization if it isn’t delivered in a way its people can readily understand. If this sounds simple, you are right, it is. But the fact remains that too often great ideas and their potential impact on the organization are plagued by clumsy deliveries. The hand-off of a great idea from the professional service firm to the client should be treated as important as the idea itself, its future impact on the organization depends on it.
How many innovative ideas fall by the wayside not because they weren’t able to make a difference to the enterprise, but because the execution of their delivery was ignored? It’s an impossible question to answer, but it makes one wonder how different things could be had someone taken the time to carefully consider the concept before presenting their idea to the client.
Some things to consider when transferring a great idea to a client might include framing the end result in a way the client understands. Working backwards from a desired outcome to the idea itself isn’t a novel idea, but often times we take for granted the fact that we understand the impact the idea can have on the organization, while the client might be looking at it from a different point of view. But even this might not be going far enough. It makes more sense to work alongside the client in communicating the idea in a manner that their team can easily comprehend. So why is it that we don’t practice this more often?
This week on Harvard Business Review’s blog there is a great post on “Delivering Your Innovative Ideas” by Michael Schrage. He shares with readers his own experience in working with Procter & Gamble’s R&D team and watching as one of their managers “translates” his ideas for the team. Understanding how the client views your idea is every bit as important as how you envision it. If there is any chance of a great idea turning into the change that it was meant to lead, then this translation is every bit as important as the creativity that inspired it to begin with.
You can read Schrage’s account of the team at P&G interpreting his idea here.