Those That Get ‘It’ Don’t Need ‘It’


But that isn’t what this post is really about, that was just an attempt at a catchy tag-line. Also, this post is also not about those that don’t get ‘it’. But first, what is ‘it’?

‘It’ is the value of the knowledge and skill that you offer as a service.

Consider the following diagram:


On the left hand side of the diagram (around ‘A’) you have the people that really don’t get the value of what you are offering. They don’t get it because their experience has never told them that it might be important, or they have never seen it done successfully. Unfortunately those that really don’t get ‘it’ are often the ones that need ‘it’ the most.  Don’t let this make you think this is a valid use of your time to try and convince them directly*.

On the right hand side of the diagram (around ‘C’) you have the people that really get ‘it’.  These people only need you if you want to be another set of hands to implement their plans.  If they get ‘it’ they don’t need ‘it’.  You don’t consult for these people, you get a job with them (if that is what you want).  Your skills and talents will be leveraged daily.

You’ll notice that there is another variable plotted: The chance of success.

Imagine you are providing a consulting service to an organization that involves the organization actually changing what they are doing <GASP>.  [Note: If you are the kind of person that doesn’t care that your service actually has impact as long as you get paid, you can stop reading here… oh, and sometimes I wish I were you. -ed.] The chances of the initiative having success is directly related to how much the organization (top to bottom) is likely to get ‘it’.

At point ‘A’ they will never get ‘it’ and the chance of success is zero.  At ‘C’ they already get ‘it’ and it is probably already being done well by people in-house.

So, where should you focus your energy? Where do you add the most value?

You’ll notice we haven’t talked about point ‘B’ yet… the golden pentagon of ‘it’ opportunity.  Here there is enough get ‘it’ to ensure that the services offered will have some traction, but still enough need ‘it’ so that the organization needs your help to implement the goal of the service. And there is a reasonable probability of success, which leads to the *other way to get those that don’t get ‘it’ to realize that it might be important for them to do so:

Success breeds success, and it is one of the main things that diffuses ‘it’ (by word of mouth) from the few early adopters into the mass of the early majority.  Once those that don’t get ‘it’ start to see this success, they want to get some of that action. Some time after this point you write a book, get on Oprah, a million other consultants try and copy what you do, ‘it’ gets diluted and gets piled on the heap of discredited quick-fix fads. Why? Well, many of those that don’t get ‘it’ only try ‘it’ because they are desperate and/or have run out of ideas… but they still are unlikely to get ‘it’ and the chance for success stays low. [Hey, don’t complain, you got to meet Oprah. -ed.]

So the moral of the story: If you are developing ‘it’, and you want to be in business for yourself, the best return-on-investment comes from that golden pentagon of opportunity.  Ask yourself honestly, does your client (and their organization) stand a reasonable chance of getting ‘it’?

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2 Responses

  1. Awesome post Adrian. It puts the onus on the service offerer to find out as much about his potential clients as possible to ensure they are not signing up for A or C…unless they’re OK with the consequences you’ve outlined.

    One of the problems will be that different people in the organizations will be at different levels (of needing it & getting it), and figuring out the different roles (decision-maker, implementor, etc.) will affect your golden pentagon.

    • Absolutely!

      It is very wise to get the ‘lay of the land’ with any sort of big change initiative.

      It is impossible that EVERYONE will get ‘it’ (or you are at C), so you really have to make sure the leaders are in the ‘pyramid’ and that your key sponsor is on sure footing. If those people don’t show signs of getting ‘it’ walk away.

      If they do, that isn’t license to boil the ocean: start small choosing teams that the leaders identify as likely ‘innovators’ that you can use to show success for those that need a bit of proof to become the ‘early adopters’. The ‘late majority’ only come on board when they can see clearly examples of how it will relate to them in a positive way.

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