Adonis Diaries

Archive for September 25th, 2011

Treating clients and team members with same set of behaviors? Isn’t an invitation to fuck it up?

I like many posts published by, and his latest on Sept. 23 is rich in controversial suggestions. William wrote (with slight editing):

“I’ve read many times about the importance of motivating your team. About how vital it is to make them feel appreciated. About how crucial it is to educate them. To build their skills. To empower them. To inspire them. And I think most importantly, to be compassionate towards your team.

I haven’t read anywhere that you need to treat your customers this way (with the exception of educating the customers.) Now I realize that treating your customers with all the above (set of behaviors) is as important as treating your team that way.

Now, when I work on a project, the customer and us are all working together. There are no 2 teams. We are one team encompassing all the people involved in the process.  I refuse to have just customers. It all started on that day…

The day when we received an email from one of our customers. The email contained feedback regarding a design proposal we sent them. The revised proposal shocked me!

The email had a long list of changes. The changes aren’t specifically the problem. The problem is this: the list of changes was full of tiny meaningless changes that did not affect the outcome of the design, nor the effectiveness of the message. These were changes that would waste valuable time from the very tight and time sensitive deadline of the project.

It was as if the customer was telling us implicitly that they hated our proposal (without telling us that they hate it). Instead, they listed every element in the design and asked us to change every one. I was furious.

As much as I tried to cool down, and tone down my email reply, I couldn’t. My email hurt the customer, and made them furious as well. And no, I didn’t shout or curse in the email. I didn’t use capital letters, nor bold words. I used very strategic words that hit very sensitive nerves in people. Bad idea. (It will be nice to have a sample of this kind of replies…)

I am sorry for doing that. I would take it back. I can’t. And I think that without this incident, I would not have learned this valuable lesson. So there must be something good out (of fucking up occasionally).

I now understand that the problem was because the customer and us, we were behaving as two sides. The customer was not involved in the process. There wasn’t any communication.

When we received the brief from the customer, we threw away their brief and created our own. We did this without involving the (client team members) in the process of creating a new brief.  This action was an insult by itself.

Sure the new brief might have served the customer’s desired outcome better; but that doesn’t matter: the customer doesn’t know that. We didn’t make sure that they were aware of the added benefits and effective outcome of the new brief.

Now I understand how vital it is to involve the customer in every step. To make them part of the team. To involve them in the initiatives we take. To motivate them. To inspire them. To empower them. To educate them; naturally. And most importantly, to be compassionate with them. To help them grow and develop their skills; the way you would want from any team member.

And I promise, you and your customer will have a richer experience together. Hopefully, without fucking up first.” End of quote

I listened to the speech of Hala Fadel at TEDxBeirut that was held this Saturday Sept.24.  Hala is a “successful” entrepreneur for the last 5 years and she said: “If you want to become a successful entrepreneur you should learn the three conditions:

First, you have got to work like a slave at the beginning: Ego is never needed in anything.

Second, command like a King: members of the team need a leader. (Why leading should be the domain of dictators or absolute monarch?)

Third, create like a God:  We have no place to hide in this “flat land” and competition is savage and relentless. (Hala mentioned that her 7 year-old girl replied “Is God an entrepreneur?”

I am wondering: Could anyone who managed to become successful not generate inflated ego, no matter how hard he tries to squelch it?  How William is going to change his approach with an entrepreneur with the above set of beliefs on “How to become successful”?   Would such an entrepreneur (a client, a customer) suffer to feel that he is being educated, his skills built, and being “empowered and inspired”?  Would a process that demonstrates “humility”, ever going to convince such an entrepreneur that you are at level to deliver?

(To be continued)




September 2011

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