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July 13, 2008

We can achieve more together...

I have been fortunate enough to have had some really good mentors during my career. Some of these were sought out, such as Mr. John Moubray and Mr. Bob Latino, others happened purely by chance, like Mr. Alan Mather (No relation) and Mr. Harvey Rough.

All these people defy explanation, and all are exceptionally unique individuals in their own right. However, Harvey always fascinated me. A pioneer in industries as diverse as IT, Outsourcing, Wine producing and exploiting the Internet, this guy is probably the most amazing and intriguing entrepreneur that I have ever seen.

Harv had a few classic lines that he used to drop regularly, the first and most memorable was:

We can achieve more working together than we can do working separately.
Isn't that a great line? Focused on partnerships, mutual strengths, the willingness to work together - while at the same time expressing the pragmatic view that he was willing to go it alone. 
I have used this thinking continually and it has turned up some great results. In the competitive world of consulting company partnerships it provides me with a strong reference to think about how I should work with a competitor instead of how I could work against them. 

In the case of clients it has provided me with a basis to work as a co-conspirator with them. The term partner is over-used but it really does apply.

When you think in terms of "we could achieve more together..." a strange thing happens. You move yourself from the position of service provider, to the position of co-conspirator. That is, you move yourself mentally into the area where you become a peer of the client.

Depending on where you are consulting in the world this can be a phenomenal advantage. Getting past the them and us and moving directly to the "we". This means that "we" can work through all issues as opposed to trying to outmaneuver each other, or warily watching each other.

There is a difference though... you never truly become a "peer" of the client in the full sense of the word. At all times this is a service industry and the client needs to recognize that you are providing them with unique and highly useful/profitable/productive value. They are still paying the bills after all... but in terms of working through issues, they need to see that you are at least their peer in terms of experience and intellect - if not their superior in some aspects/areas. (Why else would you buy in services after all...)

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