Published by Luc Galoppin, on 18/02/2014
This is the first part of a three-part series in which I am searching for the ideal point in time when it is time to end a consulting engagement.
A lot has been written about selling, managing resistance and delivering services, but ending an engagement and knowing when to end it seems to be a blind spot. In this series I will be shedding some light on that.
I am convinced that the conversation about when it is time for an organizational change practitioner to leave the customer should be part of the contracting phase. Having this conversation before the engagement starts brings candor and honesty to the customer relationship. In other words: it’s a deposit on the emotional bank account of trust.
Remember the specific way I look at our profession. From my perspective our job isn’t done when we delivered our expertise; that’s just the entry ticket. Our real goal is to develop a community around the project, that ensures that the technical architecture of the project can sustain and further develop. This is called Social Architecture and it calls for raising the bar for our profession in three levels: expertise, relationship management and Social Architecture.
An important thing to note is that we always have choice in how we deploy our services; we can either be an expert, or we can evolve to be a social architect.
On the graph below I have plotted these three levels on a scale of value we deliver to a customer during the life-cycle of an engagement.
When we look at the curve from the theoretical perspective of an ideal world, we can see that very little time is needed to deliver a solution, compared to the time it takes to build a community. On the other hand, during that last phase the true value for the customer starts to appear.
At the top of the curve, basically your goal as an organizational change practitioner is accomplished: the customer is capable of continuing without you. However, just like learning to drive a car for the first time, the customer may feel a lot better when you are still around for some time. But soon enough it will be time to discuss your departure.
Extra bonus: Engaging in this conversation upfront will make it easier to re-contract or to prepare ourselves and our customer for a succesful ending of the engagement.
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