Whenever a client presents a challenge (aka hard problem to solve) there is this temptation to focus on the things that, in the opinion of the person representing the client business, are missing in their day-to-day work. When we follow this path we end up building solutions based on this person’s perspective of what his organization should be. While some may say that this way we are building the best solution for the organization, because we are focusing on the best solution involving the best people, others will argue exactly the opposite since we are not considering the organization’s knowledge and improving it. Having seen success and failure cases in both perspectives I’m inclined to say that both perspectives are right and also wrong at the same time since they depend on so many other elements such as timing, culture, IT knowledge among many other either controlled and uncontrolled elements like user adoption.
Picture a Cup
When a client presents me a problem, sorry a challenge, I try to picture a cup. The client presents a me an empty cup. Since my development team is excellent in implementing the technical solution that will fill that cup, my first impulse is to assess the right measurement of the cup and fill it. Everybody knows that this is how we get business done right? There’s an empty cup we fill it and the client is satisfied. The client will eventually come back whenever he finds another cup to fill. Right? Wrong! Filling the glass is not going to dry the clients’ thirst if it doesn’t respond to his organization needs and the project will fail. When a client presents me with an empty cup I shouldn’t be asking how will i fill that cup, I should be asking what is causing this person to be so thirsty and how do I get him to drink?
Fill it correctly
Filling the glass is not going to dry the clients’ thirst if it doesn’t respond to his organization needs. By making an effort to understand the client’s perspective of an empty cup we end up finding more about his business. We get a clearer picture of the cup’s capacity, and find out that it might not be that empty after-all. I found out that most of the times this happens because I’m talking to someone that is so focused on making a change that gets absorbed by the empty portion of the cup. If we fill the cup exactly like it is being asked the cup will spill. A good solution builds upon the existing water and fills the cup right to its optimal capacity.
Don’t Drink it!
And now that that the cup was correctly filled, the client drinks it and we go home. Right? Wrong!! While your client’s representative may seem satisfied with that beautiful clear water that your team provided he will quickly find out that he has no idea on how to drink from that cup. I mean really drink it in a way that will dry everyone’s thirst around him.
Yes clients do that. And yes you should know better 🙂 What your client needs is someone to help him bring the water to rest of the organization, someone that bridges the gap between his business and the tech solution.
Propose a toast
Literally means propose a toast. Bring everyone together to the same exact point. They will find disconfort and try to resist at first, but once they get up be sure to let them know what their are holding and where we can go together. Make the best wishes and drink together.
The day after
Well… not the exactly day after because you left your client really satisfied. Lets say sometime after, the same client will improve and starting looking to that very same glass in a different perspective, but this time you will not be looking at the client’s half empty or half full cup. You will be looking at the cup of a client that is continuously growing with you.
Now can you see what user adoption means?