Outcomes Define Value
Customers and suppliers often have different ways of looking at things. They have different priorities and concerns and may not even use the same terminology or language. This perception gap explains why suppliers sometimes deliver what they believe to be a successful project, only to find their client is disappointed and maybe less than enthusiastic about engaging them again.
Too often the supplier’s focus is on activity and logistics rather than outcomes.
If I want to go to Barbados my desired outcomes might be to get there in less than 8 hours, have unlimited Wi-Fi, unlimited food and drink and a comfortable seat. I don’t care if I’m travelling on a Boeing or an Airbus, what speed we’ll be doing, how many engines, pilots or navigators there are or even how many other people there will be on the plane.
As long as the food and drink keeps arriving I’m not worried about how many cabin staff the airline thinks it needs to allocate to the flight. Those are not my concerns, even though they may be of great interest to the airline.
If the airline focuses on, and delivers, my objectives I am happy. Experience of many flights tells me that often this is not their primary concern.
A Question of Perspective
The perception gap isn’t just looking through the wrong end of the telescope, sometimes it’s looking through the wrong telescope altogether.
How do we get out of this trap? In a word: collaboration. Collaboration when dealing with customers is to truly and fundamentally see the world through their eyes, to deeply understand their desired outcomes and to deliver what they want, when they want it.
We have to start by recognising that we might not speak the same language. That we have our priorities and they have theirs. Ultimately customers believe they have received value when they see that it is their outcomes that have driven the project and been delivered.
Walking in their shoes, helping to define and develop their outcomes and engaging with our customers is the key to building on and retaining more secure and productive relationships.
If we get the outcomes right, in the long run it saves money. Our customers get a better value project, and an experience they are eager to repeat.