As an entrepreneur that advises businesses on strategy and practices, I embrace each of my client’s need to execute their own ideas and demonstrate their lessons learned. Businesses ask experts for help for a number of compelling reasons. Too often, those reasons are forgotten once the engagement begins, and differences in opinion occur. Thus, the question arises, ‘Who’s right? The expert or the client?’ All business executives are human beings fueled by demands for respect, recognition, approval, and power. Navigating these elements can be quite complicated.
A client never wants to hear their expert say, ‘I told you that was going to happen a year ago.’ The strategy ‘a year ago’, right or wrong, was likely more uncertain than communicated.
What’s the point of this push and pull between client and expert? Why isn’t this process of knowing who’s right more straightforward? The wants and needs of businesses and their decision-makers are often not aligned, leading to conflict in the direction.
When the question of ‘who’s right’ arises, consider the following:
- Why did you engage the expert?
- What problem are you seeking to solve?
- Who are the key stakeholders, and what would they view as winning outcomes?
- What is the end-game? What is the point of the entire project or initiative?
A good expert in the role of consultant or advisor always recognizes BOTH the needs AND wants of the client. These will be factored into advice, strategy, and planning. The expert also has a responsibility to share advanced knowledge, including the benefits of implementation and the consequences of not taking certain action. Ultimately, the client chooses and approves every course of action.
Throughout the process, everyone should have their intellectual dignity intact. Otherwise, no one really wins.
Three elements must be top of mind when determining if the client is right or if the expert is right when differences in approach to strategy and planning occurs.
- Mutual respect must be present. Everyone brings value to the table. All perspectives and inputs should be heard to understand and recognize the merits of all contributions. This dynamic of collaboration is the foundation for continued growth of the relationship between the client and the expert.
- Pursuit of complete clarity about desired business outcomes that are specific and measurable is a must. Understanding WHY these outcomes are relevant is important in gaining alignment between participants.
- Values, culture, authenticity, and brand must be woven into the fabric of the dialogue. Dynamics that impact the short and long-term principles of these must be evaluated at every step in the process.
The expert brings experience to the table, likely having seen scenarios similar to the current project 20 times compared to your 2 times. They have training and ongoing education in the subject matter at hand, in addition to the fact that this is what they do every day! Listening to their input will help you avoid damaging pitfalls.
The client determines acceptable levels of calculated risk to achieve the desired rewards. It is their role to assure innovation and experimentation to push the business forward.
To achieve a win-win collaboration between client and expert – and not a lose-lose failure – a combination of passion for progress and respect for process will get everyone there together. The result will be the accomplishment of your business objectives, as well as a sense of team ‘feel good’ for everyone.
Dana Taylor’s business, Intelligent Ethos provides sales pipeline development and customer relationship management (CRM) advisory services, methodology, and delivery. Dana is committed to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs succeed in the marketplace by creating & sustaining cash flow, leveraging technology, and expanding capacity.
After beginning her career in account management for national and global telecommunications companies, Dana transitioned into business development and sales for small businesses in 2002. Representing a human resources outsourcing firm and a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider, she has cultivated extensive relationships in the small business community, federal government contracting market, and the professional and trade association sector.
You can view her profile HERE.