Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Stories of engaged relationships

I'm researching engagement between consultants and public sector clients specifically on IT projects. Let me tell you a story of how engagement could influence IT project outcomes.

Two parties, a Consultant IT Supplier and Public Sector Client agree and shake on an IT contract. The Public Sector Client writes a big requirements documents that outlines the type of system required - as if it were a new car, and throws it over the wall at the Consultant IT Supplier.
"Can’t we just clarify with a bit..?
No. You just get on with it."
So the Consultant IT Supplier gets the technical teams to develop the system. Six months later he comes back to proudly display a Rolls Royce of a system. But the Public Sector Client can't afford a Rolls Royce system and goes:
"No, that's not what I want."
Take an alternative scenario. This time, the two parties discuss the requirement documents. The Consultant IT Supplier takes the requirements back to the technical team, which raises points and queries. The two parties meet and discuss and the Public Sector Client answers the queries, elaborates on the requirements and the rationale for the requirements. They return to their teams, then come back again and again to discuss formally and informally. Six months later the two parties, together have created a Skoda of a system.

The point to take from this is that, to paraphrase St Exupery,:
Engagement is not looking into each others' eyes,
but looking outwards, in the same direction.

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