Engagement Depth versus Engagement Breadth

How often have you felt that a given solution does not really ‘solve’ your problem? Have you been faced with a situation where the solution does not ‘fit in’ with the way your business operates? Do you sometimes wish your solution provider had ‘thought things through’ rather than simply ‘solutioned’?

We ask these questions from ourselves and our solution providers day in and day out. Whether it’s in a corporate or startup environment. The solution to the problem is always tantalisingly close – but never in hand.

Why does this happen?

We believe it’s because problems can never be solved at the level at which it has been created. We must ‘zoom’ in and out of the problem zone to identify causative factors. It takes time, it takes energy and many trips back to the drawing board. Many late nights, lots of head scratching and scores of cups of coffee later, there’s an “Aha!” moment and the solution that finally addresses the issue presents itself.

Doing this seems counter-intuitive in the conventional business sense. It takes time, trouble and the ever present Damocles Sword of “Opportunity Cost”. It’s far easier (and more profitable) to provide a quick solution, execute and then ‘bill the client’. There’s less stress, less chances of disappointment and letting the client ‘deal with his own problems’ while we move on to acquiring the next client.

It’s a really convenient excuse. A service/solution provider can always shrug saying “Look! This problem lies outside my scope of work/expertise area.”, or “I can tell you, but then I’d have to bill you” or some such statement.

We’ve seen that this is not going to be a sustainable solution. Here’s why:

    1. The cause of the problem is never in plain sight. Looking for it actively will provide a lasting solution to a client. That helps build a lasting relationship with them. That’s bad business.
    2. Businesses now are built on trust. If you solve the real problems, you will get real business through referrals, increased reputation and massive amounts of learning – all of which stand us head and shoulders above the competition for the next client. You have her trust. Which is far more useful currency.
    3. “The reward for good work is more work. The reward for more work is better work”. This adage holds true in the world of business. Businesses must stop seeing themselves as “Vendors” or “Solution Providers”. They need to start seeing themselves as “Consultants” with a thirst for helping solve the problems of their clients rather than just stack up billing and invoices.

Over the next few posts, we’ll take you through some case studies where this approach has reaped rich dividends for us and for our clients.

Stay tuned for more from our blog.