This article was originally posted on Michael’s LinkedIn profile, which you can find here.
I read an article by Jill Konrath the other day. In it, she talks about an important question she finally had the guts to start asking her clients.
Q: “Can you tell me what I am doing for your business that makes you keep hiring me?"
A: “You make me see differently."
...she dismissed the answer for years. But! There is data to support this idea.
Have you had similar conversations with your customers? Do they have a difficult time quantifying the cost benefits that you have on their business - but they like your vision? The way you “think” about things and the way you help them do their jobs better?
So, what is the value of perspective? Is there a way to prove it? Is it enough to intuitively know that “there must be a better way?” Do we always have to go through the painstaking process of determining the exact cost benefit of doing something before we do it?
Until there is some quantitative evidence, isn’t it really just a hunch? The question is, can you use the hunch to build a quantifiable case around it?
I am reading a book right now by Charles Koch. Last week, on a flight home, I came to a particularly interesting part that dovetails nicely with this vein of conversation. Here’s an excerpt:
"The process of discovery begins when we observe, often vaguely, a gap between what is and what could be. Our intuition tells us something better is just beyond the range of our mind’s eye. To build a culture of discovery, we must encourage, not discourage, the passionate pursuit of hunches (no matter their origin)
The genesis of this entire process is the development of personal knowledge that is passionately applied to capture an opportunity or solve a problem."
If you watch detective shows, this is exactly what they do. They have this hunch of “who dun it?” How do they prove it though? Let’s go back to grade school a minute. Remember the Scientific Method?
Can you use the scientific method to prove the value of perspective? I believe you can. In fact, it’s a major part of our business development process here. If a prospective customer cannot prove the value we will bring then one of two things will happen: 1) They will not become a customer. 2) They become a customer - and then aren’t happy. Neither is a winning scenario and both are outcomes we want to avoid.
If someone tells me, “I think we need to do this because it will help me do my job better,” I might ask them if they are having these types of conversations internally. I then might ask questions like:
Why do you need to do better?
Is someone telling you that?
Why do they care?
How are you doing it now?
How would you like to be doing it?
What have you tried?
Why didn’t that work?
Together, we are starting to develop our hypothesis around “how” they will be doing their job better.
Then we experiment. I want to bring everybody in the room--the “who” from above. I want to hear their take on how things are being done today and how they would see it done differently. Then, we may talk about how other people do it. We can begin to quantify the value of the difference.
We have a structured process called a Business Capability Assessment to do this. To Jill’s point above, roughly 75% of the prospective customers that engage with us in this process ultimately become a client. Together, we turn hunches into a business case for change and create a viable vision for the future.
How do you go about this? Do you make decisions based solely on “your gut” or a hunch? Or do you try to find a way to quantify?
What about with your boss or customers? How do you help them see the value of perspective?
Also, if you like my perspective, you might like our perspective in our latest whitepaper: