Watching the tape week-part 2

So y’all provided 52 ideas. ?That’s one idea about how to deliver more value to clients for every week of the year!If I emailed weekly and there wasn’t any duplication in that list of ideas (there was a small bit of duplication) I could spend a whole year echoing these ideas back to you. Think about that for a moment…I spent some time today grouping those ideas as best I could:ImageYeah, that’s quite an impressive list! No, it’s not meant to be legible. I’ll summarize them for you in the coming days and expand on ones that I think are particularly high leverage when it comes to developing economically valuable expertise.The first biggest category of ideas was one I categorized as Delivery Optimization, and the second biggest was a sort of General catch-all bucket.Here are anonymized summaries of the Delivery Optimization ideas:

  • Create an “assembly line” for writing code
  • Learn on a “trial” client, share with others
  • Automatic error and comment logging for my software applications
  • Work harder on documentation and testing
  • Encouraging my team to get faster at what they do by coaching them personally on better ways to code, newer technologies, bundling repeatable steps as custom plugins etc.
  • Everyday I read & learn about my craft.
  • Learn from what small clients need (ex: low cost) to benefit large clients and vice-versa
  • Communication Improvements Related to Delivery:
    • I check in at regular intervals to ensure I’m on the right track
    • I work to get better at listening. The more I can catch details in what my client tells me, the better I can understand his situation and come up with a solution that match the best. Sometimes clients tell you X when in reality they really want (or need) Y, without realizing it. When you can catch that their eyes sparkle.
    • Finding out what clients value
    • Project post-mortems with clients

Those ideas are all good. They run the gamut from things every one in any kind of client services work should be doing to things that are a bit more unusual, inventive, or high-leverage. I don’t want anybody to feel bad that I will focus more on the stuff I perceive to be more inventive or high-leverage, cause that’s why I’m here. I want to help you move your business out of the middle of the pack and into a leadership position. Doing only what’s standard or expected usually won’t get you there.One of these ideas that struck me as particularly inventive was: Learn from what small clients need (ex: low cost) to benefit large clients and vice-versa.This one came from a designer who is an expert at design for additive manufacturing. He conveyed to me that his smaller clients are–not surprisingly–very cost conscious, while his larger clients usually value speed.That’s an interesting dynamic, because he can’t optimize for just one of those attributes, but cost and speed are each a productive constraint and, once he has the expertise that comes from laboring under either of those constraints, cost and speed can be compelling differentiators for prospective clients.To use less cumbersome language: it sucks to be under cost or deadline pressure, but the expertise that comes from working under those constraints can be attractive to prospective clients in the future.To further simplify this idea: being able to intentionally take projects that push you in some way can be very productive.Of course this adds risk, but if you’re clear about the tradeoffs with your client, it strikes me as a great way to cultivate new expertise.Again, my focus on this particular ideas is not meant to dismiss or trivialize the others. If you’re not doing some of that table stakes stuff like project post-mortems, being amazing at communication, etc. then start there.But if you’re already doing that stuff, there might be ways you can get better at delivering projects.Tomorrow I’ll explore ideas y’all shared from another of the categories.Which one?Even I don’t know. Maybe it’ll come to me in a dream. :)-P

Two online experiential learning workshops this October: