As regular readers of this blog will know, I am somewhat of a self-confessed “BA Geek”. I can’t help but see processes, systems, data, interconnections and opportunities for analysis everywhere I go. I find it fascinating how different industries approach things so differently, and I can’t help but peek ‘behind the curtain’ and try and work out how different businesses operate.
I was recently travelling with work and was eating in a quiet (but very nice, if slightly pricey) restaurant. I went to pay, and found that unfortunately they weren’t able to accept credit cards—so I paid in cash. The meal and a couple of drinks came to about 30 Euros, I didn’t have change so I put down a 50 Euro note. The waitress soon brought back my change, which was placed on a small silver plate with a receipt.
Now, what I found interesting was:
1. Rather than giving change as a 20 Euro note, she gave me one 10 Euro, one 5 Euro and some change
2. Right next to the change was a card reminding me that tips are discretionary, but appreciated for good service (with a smiley face drawn on it to grab my attention)
It struck me that this seemingly random split of change was probably really quite a subtle and clever way of maximising tips. By breaking up my change, the waitress had ensured that I had a range of coins/notes to give whatever tip I felt appropriate, along with a reminder that a tip would be appreciated. This might be considered a gentle ‘nudge’. There was no compulsion to tip, and no pressure at all, but the waitress made it as easy as possible for me to do so if I wanted to. I smiled, put down a tip, and left. I was mulling this over on the way back to my hotel.
Equipping Our Stakeholders: Do We Remove Barriers?
Ultimately, what that waitress had done is made a request and made it as easy as possible for me to fulfil that request.
It struck me that we could perhaps borrow and build upon this philosophy of ‘making things as easy as possible’ when we are working with our stakeholders. Admittedly we are unlikely to be seeking tips(!), but there are many times we’ll need specific inputs or approval from particular individuals. If we can make things as easy as possible for them to contribute, and remove any unnecessary barriers, perhaps we’ll have an easier project journey.
Let’s take an example. Imagine we need a stakeholder to review a particular document, and we need to be absolutely certain that they are happy with it. Consider these two requests:
“Hi, please can you review the attached. Thanks.”
Thanks for attending the workshop. I’ve written up the output, and am keen to ensure I have correctly captured our conversations, particularly as your input is so crucial to the project. Please could you review the document (paying particular attention to actions 2-4, which are assigned to you). It’ll be useful if you scan page 4, but these are Finance related (which I know is outside your area) so there’s no need to read in detail.
Please could you come back with your comments by Friday, either confirming:
- You are happy with the document as it stands
- You have amendments to make (in this case, just add comments to the document and send it back to me. I’ll do the rest)
If you need any further information, just give me a shout. I’ll give you a call on Thursday just to make sure you’re on track”
In version (b) we have been as specific as possible, letting the person know why their review is important, the particular areas, the timeframe and so on. We have (hopefully) given them everything they need, plus we’ve offered to give them a call to answer any other queries too. In most cases, this is likely to be more effective than version (a).
I suspect we all intuitively structure our communication more like (b) than (a), yet it can only help to pause, consider our stakeholders and ask the question ‘could we make this even easier for them’. Plus of course it is worth seeking feedback from the stakeholders themselves, I am sure they will appreciate this!
What are your views on the topics in this post? Do you have any tips, perspectives or anything to add? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please add a comment below, and let’s keep the conversation flowing!
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About the author:
Adrian Reed is Principal Consultant at Blackmetric Business Solutions, an organisation that offers Business Analysis consulting and training solutions. Adrian is a keen advocate of the analysis profession, and is constantly looking for ways of promoting the value that good analysis can bring.
To find out more about the training and consulting services offered at Blackmetric, please visit www.blackmetric.com