The thinking stops, the listening stops, and the build begins
People stop listening, instead of asking “what can we learn from this?” and continuing to explore.
Recently, I was asked to observe a journey between a client and its tech. agency from the first meeting to the end. The result was not positive.
- The client was annoyed they had lost time and did not get what they asked for.
- The agency was shocked that they had thought they understood the brief.
Projects going wrong is not uncommon, a survey of professional Project Managers (2017) found that 49% of projects experienced scope creep +/or increased cost. It also found that the failure rate of IT projects is 14%. What is confronting is that this survey was taken amongst professionals who have experience in handling this type of work, and yet even they get it wrong.
The illusion of understanding
So, how and where did the project go wrong and who is to blame? Did the client properly brief the agency? Did the agency not understand the brief? Both client and agency believed they had understood one another.
Are they talking the same language?
And this is where the feedback from our retrospective (thanks Retrottl.io !) got very interesting, we identified that critical failure happened in the first 30 minutes of the very first meeting.
In this case, there was a moment when the client and agency reached an illusion of understanding of what they are going to do together, and the build started.
“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way round”
– Steve Jobs
Depth results in becoming a better business
A really keyword in Steve Jobs’ quote was ‘benefits’. Too often this gets confused with features. Agencies love to build features, but the question is, does the user value them?
How do you identify ‘Depth’ in an agency? Having left us over price, a client once told us that they had returned to us their replacement agency did exactly what was asked of them, and that wasn’t good enough to give the client the edge in business.
As an agency, we spend about 80% our time talking potential clients out of starting to build anything.
Here’s a checklist to evaluate your tech. journey:
Choosing an agency
An agency should work as a bridge between business and tech. It should interpret your needs into tech, but also push back and demonstrate Depth – what questions are they asking you? Do they focus on the tech. or the user journey?
It takes 3-dimensional thinking that goes beyond the high aspirations of the client and the width of an agency’s technical stack. It takes a depth of understanding to answer the questions that have not yet been thought of from the information we do not yet have.
Does the agency understand ‘the why’ of your project? Do they get what you’re trying to achieve?
“The important thing is not to stop questioning” – Albert Einstein
Jonathan Castletine-Jackson is the doorman into u2i, a bespoke IT Development agency that builds relationships to understand your business before it builds your tech.