Our clients come to us with business problems that require technology solutions that they really don't understand. It's difficult for them because they have a vision for their company that they want to achieve, but this "thing" is in the way and they need it resolved. They also bring along a form of tunnel vision with the project that can cloud their project expectations. They don't do it on purpose, certainly. It happens because they don't really understand what is involved in the solution and why we're going to do the things we suggest.
So, we were brainstorming within our agency about how we can help our clients realize their vision and what it will take for them to open up and allow the right solution to be implemented. As we brainstormed about a better way to help our clients understand how to achieve their vision, we had not landed on a concept that we all liked...until one of our genius software engineers spoke up and said:
Expand the client's tunnel vision.
What? He delivered this nugget of genius so matter-of-factly and confidently that we couldn't help but see the brilliance in his solution. Expand the client's tunnel vision. Of course!
As a group of professional agency leaders, our mission is to create strategies, services and products that help our clients solve business problems and create opportunities for the future success of their business. Usually, the roadblocks (outside of financial, which we can always solve) are thrown up by company leaders because of their tunnel vision in some area. And that can derail projects until resolution can be found or opinions can be educated. To some degree, the conversation is also about mitigating the client's risk in the project.
How to Expand the Client's Tunnel Vision
- Help them visualize their goal - you can probably imagine that sophisticated transformation, design or software projects are difficult for a client to visualize, especially if they are feeling pain from an internal business problem. That's why you're there. Helping the client visualize, either on paper or on screen, the end result of their goal will generally help them see where the project is going and what they can expect. This exercise mirrors an old business phrase, "let me get some eyes on that."
- Identify project goals that are inspiring to the client - rather than outlining mechanical or procedural improvements, collaborate with your client and create personal project goals that really mean things that are more personally inspiring. For example, if the project you are proposing will give your client more time to spend with his peers and family, incorporate those goals into the project. Now you are identifying goals that are personally inspiring (and could be more motivating than the mechanical project goals) to the client.
- Lead them to success or they will lead you somewhere else - face it, most business clients are strong-willed, determined business leaders. They are smart and they want to make good decisions. They hired you, didn't they! So this point of expanding their tunnel vision is challenging. Showing your client that you can lead them to success demands a high level of confidence, honesty and organization from your first meeting. Go ahead and tell them during the meeting: "Ms. Jones, my company and I will lead you to success with our software transformation services." Because sure enough, if you don't lead them, they will lead you way off course. Also work in the risk mitigation factor here, if you can. Your solution and team can help absorb or remove the high risk for the client because you know that it will work, etc.
- Show them value in different ways - really smart business leaders do want to see other ways to get them to success. But be ready to support your suggestions with valid reasons and experience why your new idea or pathway is better than theirs. Showing the client the value in your suggestion and how it can positively impact the solution you're suggesting will widen their tunnel vision. Remember, they want solutions that are effective, affordable and within their means.
- All you're doing is expanding their vision, not changing it - there is a delicate balance between expanding a client's tunnel vision and changing it. By expanding their tunnel vision, you're offering new ideas and solutions that they have not thought about or seen previously. So using phrases in your conversations like, "We were really excited to share this new technology with you as a solid solution for you to consider." If you approach the client to change their vision, the conversation might sound like, "Ms. Jones, your thinking is so out of touch that your company is going out of business if you don't change from paper to online banking." Can you see the different approaches?
Working with clients on larger technology and business transformation projects can cause them to really sharpen their tunnel vision because the stakes are higher and the risks are larger. We have learned how to work with business leaders to offer solutions and strategies that help them visualize the end results that they have not thought of previously and help them visualize the risk mitigation in the project. Not to say that there have not been challenges along the way! But the mindset of expanding the client's tunnel vision is a great concept for what we do so well at The Idea People.
Please contact our company president, Jay Joyce, at 704-398-4437 or firstname.lastname@example.org for professional help with visualizing change and improvement with your company's technology and transformation program. We can work with both short-term fixes and longer term programs.