Here at Projectline, we take professional development seriously. In addition to granting each employee a generous professional development fund, having an employee-directed professional development team, and making time for brown bag sessions on everything from office yoga to new software applications, we really do make good on our commitment to learning and improving as part of our job. Case in point: The Projectline Book Club, which is open to Projectliners and FoPs (Friends of Projectline) alike. Once a month, we meet to discuss a business or marketing book. And because this is Projectline, we do this over delicious beer, wine, and snacks, of course.
This month, we discussed Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding the Three Fears that Sabotage Client Loyalty by Patrick Lencioni. This is the second book by Lencioni that we’ve read in the club. For anyone who finds your stereotypical business book a helpful sleeping aid, Lencioni’s approach is a fine alternative. Rather than hitting you over the head with concepts, best practices, and dated examples, Lencioni spins a fable that shows, rather than tells, the points he’s trying to get across. In Getting Naked, he uses the story of an ambitious consultant at a traditional “charge and deliver” consulting company that is asked to integrate Lighthouse, a recently acquired boutique consulting firm. The resulting culture clash aptly showcases the difference between typical consulting practices and the smaller firm’s more humble, client-first approach.
For example, while consultants at the larger company typically begin each new consulting engagement with a PowerPoint presentation that suggests solutions, the consultants at Lighthouse spend little time preparing for meetings and instead focus on asking questions right off the bat. And while consultants at the bigger firm always make sure to include pricing in their sales pitch, Lighthouse consultants are more likely to just roll up their sleeves and get started before talking numbers. Guess which firm lands more clients, charges higher prices, and enjoys a wider profit margin?
Our discussion about the book centered on how applicable the Lighthouse approach would be with our own clients. Would we really be comfortable, as Lencioni suggests, asking dumb questions and risking looking unprepared in front of clients as we battle our own fears of losing the business, feeling embarrassed, and being perceived as second-rate? It was a good discussion, particularly over mimosas made with Jeremy’s secret blend of pineapple, grape, and orange juice! (See what I mean about delicious?) Ultimately, we decided that while there were better ways to ask the “dumb” questions without coming off as entirely clueless, learning how to be more vulnerable with our clients could result in more effective, longer-term client relationships with greater benefits for all.
Have you read any of Lencioni’s books? If so, what did you think? Let us know. And if you live in the greater Seattle area, feel free to check out our book club. In November, we’re discussing I Love You More Than My Dog by Jeanne Bliss. For more info on the details, contact us, or follow us on Twitter: @projectline.