I reached back into the archives for an article I wrote in October 2016. What has really changed since then, despite the Covid-19 epidemic? Well maybe that we use Zoom rather than Skype these days 😃😀😃
#Throwback2016: My American Mentor chuckled last night when she was reading out the agenda I had sent for our Skype session. Under the bullet point “Sustainability,” I had the topic: “Giving clients what they want when your expertise tells you ‘No’. This is a real dilemma for businesses that strive to be ethical whilst simultaneously effective.
You can do work. But not achieve a desirable goal. That is being ineffective. The discussion topic was inspired by an email that advised me that a project I had really wanted to get because I knew the value I could bring to that organisation as a result of my passion and experience on the subject matter, I didn’t get. My entire life I have been immersed in what that project entailed. I am shaped in spite and despite of the challenges that that organisation is facing and many others in this country and globally. So to me it is a lived experience, not just my expertise. So I am very aware of what is effective that will bear transformative results versus compliance, tickbox activities.
So the discussion with my mentor was about the dilemma of staying true to your positioning and values as a business versus succumbing to pressures from clients when they focus on cost versus doing what is right, effective and strategic for their businesses. It is much easier to say “Yes” to a client if you focus on the income. One can certainly try to accommodate budgetary constraints as far as possible without destroying your own business, but still ensuring you do what is effective, not necessarily efficient in terms of cost.
So I did offer options in approaches which would have met the client’s cost concerns. Still ensuring authenticity and getting to the root cause of their problem so that correct remedies can be put in place. If you do not identify the right problem and address it directly, then you can potentially cause issues to stay covert until they blow up. In a country and a world that is experiencing low growth and high unemployment, employee mobility is not as rife as it was a few years ago so people bide their time, not rocking the boat, not giving the best of themselves and wait it out. But what damage are they making to your reputation? Who are they speaking to? If they don’t trust those inside, aren’t they confiding in others on the outside? Because in the long run the efficient turns out to be more expensive when you do not deal with the root cause of a problem. There are just some universal truths and principles concerning certain issues and challenges relating to human nature and organisations. And how you handle them, make the outcomes predictable.
So it was quite an interesting discussion with my Mentor who also shared experiences she has encountered across the oceans relating to the subject matter of the project. Confirming the universal truths. When I said: “I wonder in what circumstance will I just change my approaches and interventions to suit the clients requests and thus ensuring I get the business?” My mentor said, “Because you look at as many permutations of an issue as you can and try to find the best effective solution without compromising your values, I don’t think you will have to worry about that.”
I truly work towards that. From a client perspective, I have always lost respect and distrusted consulting firms who after getting a contract spend time motivating for the change of scope and costs because the reality of delivery makes it impossible and even if they knew coming in, it will result in ineffective solutions if they do as they are told instead of having the integrity at the beginning to advise the client that what they want, is not advisable or feasible.
Busara Leadership Partners is striving to change the image and experience of a strategic advisory and consulting firm. When you carry large overheads, I guess integrity is the first to go. Wheeew! Being an entrepreneur with a conscience is not Easy!
I wonder how Donald Trump does it? Lies without flinching. Does he sleep like a baby?