Many of the principles that we covered last week come together today. By carefully following each of the previous principles, we can create well-researched, stakeholder-driven, brilliant processes designed to meet – and often exceed – our finely-tuned engagement objectives.
What does it mean?
Beginning with the end in mind means starting an engagement by first determining what decision needs to be made, or what problem needs to be solved, and who specifically will make the final decision. From that point, we can determine what information we need from our stakeholders to make a durable decision (timely, cost-effective, uncontroversial etc.), and how best to collect this information – by engaging on process before content.
To create brilliant process, we never guess or hope. We plan! We do our research in advance of the engagement and ask stakeholders effective, strategic questions at the beginning – and communicate with them along the way too. This way, our engagement process supports and reflects both the process we need to follow to make the decision, and the needs of our stakeholders to provide effective feedback on that decision in a way that is meaningful to them.
What does it look like?
Our clients often have a difficult time clearly identifying the decision that needs to be made. They know there is a problem to be solved, and that they should probably ask their stakeholders what they think about it, but when asked to articulate the decision in one sentence, they often struggle. Engaging without knowing definitively what the purpose of that engagement is can create undue risk, cost and loss of trust with your stakeholders.
We recently spent a significant amount of time working with a new client that initially wanted to write a very vague, open-ended decision statement. We worked with them to make sure they understood the importance of their decision statement, and that it needed to accurately and definitively frame the problem to be solved, in order to successfully solve that problem. This also connects with what we call the scope of the engagement – clearly outlining, from the start, what stakeholders can influence, and what they can’t. Once this hurdle was passed, the decision making and engagement process unfolded brilliantly from there (with a lot of careful, intentional planning – of course!).
This is part of an ongoing series exploring Delaney + Associates’ Company Creed. Check out the introduction piece here.