In case you were wondering, we aren’t perfect. Of course, no one is.
In real life, we do our best to live the greatest life possible….and yet, we still goof up now and then.
In consulting, it’s really a mirror of real life. We set our goals to always exceed expectations, never just meet them. We are willing to work long hours. There is not a challenge we won’t figure out. Yet, now and then, we don’t get it right. We actually fail.
At our firm, we know that you must fail fast to innovate. The best firms have a great batting average. The pursuit of perfection actually holds you back. And so when you embrace a “fail fast” culture, combined with a culture that always wants to exceed expectations to provide the best client service in the history of the world, it’s worth stepping back for a few minutes and thinking about how we do this well.
The lessons are from what we have learned with our clients. They are the greatest teachers, whether they know it or not. Here is a partial list of what we are learning.
#1 – Focus on “why” you are hired – Our clients hire us because we are better at something than our peers. For example, they may desire our innovation, new ideas and they want us to help them go next level. Or we are there to launch a new product or create a new positioning platform or handle a critical issue.
Lesson: Understand what value you bring to a client. Know why you are there.
#2 – Our Parents are Smarter than We Think – when you fail, own it. I remember accidently breaking a window at our house when I was about nine years old. My Dad asked me who broke it after a few days, since I hadn’t said anything. He was disappointed that I didn’t just own it and tell him I did it and why, even though it was an accident. He didn’t care that the window was broken, he just wanted me to own it. It’s a lesson I have never forgot. Here is how we think in our firm today.
We accept responsibility. We never discuss a specific person with the client. Any success or failure is the firm’s.
We never blame the client. We didn’t come through. That’s what matters. Anything else is noise and we don’t spend any time on noise.
We refocus on what we do well. It gave us both energy to get back on track and make things happen.
We actually apologize with deep regret. And then we move on. You can’t keep reliving the past. It’s done, we deal with it, we move on.
Lesson: true confidence in our abilities means that we admit it when we don’t come through and we get back on track. Only insecure people or agencies blame others. Leaders know failure is a part of life and it makes us stronger.
An analogy I like to use is one I was taught as a pitcher in baseball. If someone hits a home run off you, ask yourself who you are thinking about as the next person comes up to the plate…..the person rounding the bases or the next batter? Winners focus on the next batter. Losers focus on the person taking the home run trot.
We all want to exceed expectations every time. We all want to win big for our clients every time and never make a mistake. However, we’re human and we sometimes don’t get it right.
Like we say in Texas, it’s all about how you handle things when you fall off the horse. We define our true excellence by how we rebound, how we learn from an error and how we get stronger as a result.
All the best, Bob