February 19, 2010
When I used to contract for services or products on behalf of an organization, I always appreciated that over the long view both sides need to accrue value in order for a deal to be positive. Today, I am appreciating the details in new and acute ways.
I am learning quickly how to discern which clients want to take advantage of my integrity, work ethic, and desire to over-deliver and which ones are grateful and willing to fairly compensate me for my service, skill, and ability to add value to their organization. It is truly a pleasure to work with the latter. 🙂
Even in these times of extreme austerity for business and individuals, the world is bigger than any of our personal or business interactions. So, what is true immediately will not be true forever. Thus, actions taken today (in immediacy) that could be considered opportunistic, manipulative, or exploitive, will live on indefinitely.
Real value is created when there is synergy from collaboration. In an environment of opportunism, manipulativeness, and exploitation, synergy is extinguished and replaced by minimalism – what is required is delivered rather than what is needed.
My long view advice to clients:
- Leave enough on the table to ensure that the interaction is valuable to both sides. (If you squeeze the turnip hard enough, you might get what you wanted in the short-term, but not over the long-term).
- Recognize the bounds of your agreements and/or contracts. (Don’t scope weeks of work while contracting for a few hours of service.)
- Be gracious to those that provide you service, say “thank you” and provide constructive feedback when accepting deliverables. (You would be surprised how far a little graciousness goes in creating extra value.)
- Foster collaboration with external providers worthy of internal rapport. (Ultimately, if you can create real synergy, you can achieve much greater value.)
Before I finished my post, I read Seth’s post: more, More, MORE! – apparently we are channeling the same subject today! 🙂
In your interactions, are you considering both sides?
August 9, 2009
This past week, I was involved in a youth sports competition that fielded both domestic and international teams: soccer, swimming, tennis, table tennis, dance, and much more. Although my family lives in an outlying area to the main venue, we were eligible to host five (5) teenage boys for the week long games.
I drove our SUV 840 miles and averaged 100 miles/gallon/person (50 gallons of gas with 6 of us in the car) for my two soccer players and three tennis players. Altogether, we collected one injury (already healing), one gold medal, and many, many smiles! It was a total blast!
It was an amazing and inspiring experience because the long view tenets: build reciprocity assets (goodwill) and create consistent positivity were incorporated everywhere. The games emphasized sportsmanship, camaraderie, and kindness – everyone was encouraged to do more than what was expected.
There were so many examples….
- Every day driving the SUV in the “big city” was an adventure – wrong turns, missed turns, and intersection errors. The boys cut me a great deal of slack and were always kind. (We were never late or in danger. ☺)
- Daily breakfasts were greatly appreciated, as were cookies and milk each evening. One of the things that struck me was that there was not a single complaint. No whining, no negativity, just expressed gratefulness for all that I was doing. There was a constant refrain of “thank you.”
- The injured boy played only five (5) minutes of his first soccer match against Mexico and did not net any goals during the tournament due to his injury, yet his teammates rallied around him. They carried his things, waited for him as he made his way on crutches with his knee immobilized, and ensured that he stayed integrated at the parties/festivities. Reciprocally, even though he could not play he stayed involved and cheered heartily for his team.
Can it get any better than that? Amazingly, yes!
- At the gold medal match in tennis, my guest’s opponent arrived unprepared – he had not eaten lunch. After the match had started, at one of the breaks, the opponent shared that he was hungry. My guest immediately asked his own coach if any of their team’s turkey sandwiches were left. Finding none available, he dug around his tennis bag for a nutrition bar that the opponent accepted. The linesman went to the clubhouse for some fruit and everyone waited for the boy to ingest some calories before the game restarted. In my book, that was extreme sportsmanship. My other guest tennis players informed me that although they knew their friend wanted to win, he wanted more to play a good match.
Can you encourage extreme positivity in your environment?
June 19, 2009
I was raised to be very self-sufficient and to (mostly) avoid debt, so it is difficult for me to ask.
Recently, I joined my son in “picking a fight against cancer.” We are both participating in the 2009 LiveStrong Challenge. We will each fundraise and run a 5k. My son is the LiveStrong veteran. He raised >$1000 as part of his 7th grade charity project. No matter the confidence that I have with the cause, fundraising feels to me like asking for a favor.
To overcome my discomfort with fundraising, I started slowly. I selected ten (10) friends to solicit. I prepared a “base email” and customized salutations appropriate to each friend. I sent these requests out over several days, burying the requests for support amongst a brief personal update, shameless promotion of my blog, and photos of my son. Was it the right balance?….
I did not get many quick responses. My confidence waned! After several days, I received a response indicating that my email had been caught in a spam folder (apparently, having several links causes susceptibility to spam filters). After follow-up emails to the remaining nine (9), I discovered that six (6) of the messages had been caught in spam filters. Whew! My confidence was restored.
The asking tension is in give vs. take of reciprocal behaviors. We give to preserve/nurture relationships (long view). We take (make requests of others) to meet goals. Although this is true both professionally and personally, the medium of exchange makes these transactions quite different. Professional exchanges have market norms; PAY fulfills the transaction. Personal/civic exchanges have social norms; RECIPROCITY fulfills the transaction. Boundaries and expectations are well defined for professional exchanges and I have tons of experience, so it is much easier to conduct those transactions. My instincts tell me that for personal/civic exchange, creating personal boundaries consistent with my principles and behaviors is the right direction. For me, this means nurturing personal connection with each solicitation for LiveStrong.
To date, I have raised $70 out of $200 goal for LiveStrong. Leave me a comment if you want to donate to my effort and I’ll send you the link. ☺
In the meantime, I will continue to gain experience through practice, practice, practice (does that mean that I’ll “get to the Carnegie Hall” of fundraising?!)
Do you have advice for me to strengthen my ability to ask?