At FortyAU, we focus on exemplary product delivery in a number of ways. Perhaps the most important is taking time to understand our clients, where they are in the life cycle of their business, and how they work. We can then align our resources – and their mindset – to ensure a smooth delivery and expected results.
Client Type #1 – The Dreamer
The Type: Also called a Visionary or Ideator, this client is constantly in brainstorming mode. They consistently say things like “what if…” and “can we…”. They are never in the present, always looking forward to what could be.
The Risk: Direct, unfiltered interaction of a project team and a Dreamer can lead to significant scope changes, major pivots, or at worst – the team just doesn’t know what to do next.
How to “Wow” Them: Gino Wickman’s book Traction defines the leadership team as a combination of Visionary and an Integrator. This Integrator pulls the good ideas from the bad (Dreamer ideas are not always good!) and provides direction to tactical teams for development. Identify these roles early on in your project, and do not let the Dreamer convince you that they can be both!
Client Type #2 – The Talker
The Type: The Talker, well, loves to talk. 30-minute meetings are rarely 30 minutes long, issues are hashed out, re-hashed and re-re-hashed.
The Risk: A Talker can stifle collaboration, can intimidate introverts, and drive “group think” (a situation where nobody wants to raise a competing opinion). They can also waste a lot of people’s time.
How to “Wow” Them: Ask (in a polite way) to understand why The Talker talks; Is it just to be heard? Make a separate meeting for core stakeholders only, or recommend a peer group that focuses on group discussions (and is moderated :)). Some Talkers think verbally and need differing opinions in order to understand the direction. In that case, let your teams know that is an expectation – it certainly is not the initial thought in these situations. If all else fails, ensure a technology cutoff (timed Zoom meeting) or schedule an internal meeting directly after to create a “hard stop”.
Client Type #3 – The Disengaged
The Type: The Disengaged often miss meetings, do not respond to emails, has the camera off during video calls or steps out for phone calls in the middle of meetings.
The Risk: The Disengaged, not having been a part of the team for some time, reappears to discover the product is not what – or as far along – as they expected.
How to “Wow” Them: Solid (and basic) project management processes should be used here; if The Disengaged is critical to the success of the product, call it out, escalate, or find other options for feedback. Change the development process to create a demo version early and often, so the entire team can visualize the progress, make recommendations, and all be on the same page.
Also, could this be a mis-diagnosed Dreamer? Dreamers often disengage when things turn tactical; see above on dealing with them.
All services organizations are guaranteed to see at least one of the client types above. Early identification and frank conversation will mitigate project risks and make for better outcomes and happier project teams.