This blog post is the second in a series of six that dives deep into the proven methodology developed and used by TACK10 throughout the client process. Each week, TACK10 Group President and CEO James Chalmers takes you through one of the five pillars of our methodology, detailing how it was developed and how it can be deployed. This series will inform you of how best to reach your objectives and hopefully inspire you to think critically about “what keeps you up at night?” Just tuning in now? Read Part 1 of 6 here.
When I think of the first pillar “Evaluate,” I think very broadly. Organizations are complex and spheres of influence can have significant impact on projects. For me, to evaluate means pulling back the covers and taking a look at all of the involved elements and stakeholders. You may have read the following on our website or in my first blog on this topic when it comes to this pillar; “As the old adage goes, the strongest buildings are built on the strongest foundations. It is important to have an understanding of current performance and the ability to clearly identify opportunities and challenges ahead.” So great, nothing new here, right?! We feel too often people diminish the importance of this first step and often forget that stakeholders outside a specific department or organization are probably some of the most important to involve in assessing success against project or organizational objectives.
Well it is very simple. We get caught up in what we are doing. Objective evaluation is difficult due to our own experience and bias. We know, or at least we should know our businesses or projects better than anyone else. As such, we make a lot of assumptions.
Who should be included?
The term “size for size” comes to mind here. For a small project, some assumptions may make sense because in-depth stakeholder engagement would be too costly or time consuming and will not deliver a return of sufficient value. A good rule to follow is to always engage and request evaluation from the end user. Whatever we are working on, we need their buy in and support to be successful. Our experience also shows that they are often quite willing to take the time to engage in this sort of process.
Who should we start with?
I think we should always try to start with those who decided not to be our end users. Sometimes it is hard to identify these stakeholders. They are often overlooked and that is a massive miss. Who better to ask for honest feedback than those who opted, knowingly or not, against being our customer. Why are we missing these consumers? Getting the answer can unlock future strategic direction and prioritization.
Is the customer always right?
We all should know by now that the answer is, of course, no! Regardless of whether the consumer was right or wrong, what matters is the end decision they came to. Did we clearly define what the consumer should expect? Did we over-sell? Misrepresent? Perhaps… In evaluation it is important to get to the root cause of the decision. Consumers who grade us perfectly should be thanked, but we always learn more from those who feel we have room for improvement.
Depending on the circumstances, this next set of stakeholders may be advocates of some nature. For example, we conducted evaluation exercises on behalf of a health charity with doctors who refer their patients to the resources our client publishes. Understanding their point of view is crucial to understanding “the middle” as we call it. These stakeholders are not producing or consuming, they are in the middle, advocating and acting as ambassadors.
Often overlooked, internal stakeholders are critical to a comprehensive evaluation process. In engaging internal stakeholders, don’t stay too narrow. We all find ourselves spending a disproportionate amount of time collaborating and sharing with a small number of colleagues. As such, we miss out on the insights from valuable contributors. Does the individual who staffs your IT Help Desk have input that will provide insight you didn’t previously consider? Project efficiencies are often discovered when those who are participants but not active members of an initiative are engaged in critical thinking. This is an ideal opportunity to drive greater return on investment.
At the end of the day, you will get out of evaluation what you put in. What we hope you will think of is expanding the spheres of engagement the next time you are in a position of evaluating project or goal status.
Group President and CEO
Described as a growth agent, James is a modern day game changer known for delivering 10x performance across business, marketing and sales KPIs. As a sought after strategist, James believes and has demonstrated time and again that it is not about growing successful businesses anymore; true success is attained when you challenge and impact an industry as a whole.