Lose a little at a time

Lose a little at a time.

Last week’s Getting Real Workshop was a blast. Especially the pushback. We had a healthy batch of skeptical folks this time which always makes for a better discussion.

Besides the usual “but this won’t work in our company,” we had a good bit of people doubting if you can Get Real with clients. The answer is yes you can. We’ve done it plenty of times. It’s certainly not as easy as getting real on your own, but it is possible if you just give it a try.

The main issue most people have with the Getting Real process and client work is all the charts, graphs, documentation, wireframes, and flow diagrams they think they need to deliver. Getting Real eschews paperwork and trashcan deliverables. People will say “but our big clients expect this stuff” to which we reply “why?” to which they reply “because we said we’d deliver them.” EUREKA.

They expect them because you said you’d deliver them. We’ve done web design work for hire since 1995 so I think it’s safe to say that we have some experience here. People expect what you tell them to expect. If you tell them they’re going to get all these documents then they’ll expect you to deliver all these documents. If you don’t promise all these documents then they won’t expect them. It works, we’ve done it for years.

So, here’s what you can do to Get Real with your clients. Lose a few documents in your next proposal. Instead of promising the recommendations document, the flow diagrams, the wireframes, that whatever-the-document-is-called, leave a few of them out of your next proposal. No one will miss them. Each time you write a proposal, leave a little more out of the proposal. No one will miss it.

Clients want the final product. They only care about the middle because you promise to give them the middle. Try it sometime, you’ll see. The sooner you work on something real, the sooner you can show your client something real. That makes for happy clients. Happier clients are more trusting clients. And more trusting clients allow you to do better work. This isn’t fantasy — it’s real.

Before you say “but…” just give it a try and see what happens. By losing a little at a time you’ll realize that the stuff you’re losing was stuff you never needed anyway. You’ll free yourself from the tyranny of documentation and deliverables that go in the trash anyway.

And one more thing… Those 10 page proposals? You’re wasting five pages. Cut them in half. [Signal vs. Noise]

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