We believe that the beginning of any effective problem solving process and/or professional services engagement must first begin with an appropriate assessment of the current situation. Too often, leaders and managers jump to conclusions or action without having adequate information. The “ready, shoot, aim” approach still thrives in most work environments. There are several core constituencies that every organization must deal with on a regular basis: 1) Customers/Clients; 2) Employees; 3) Investors/Bankers/Funders; 4) Strategic Partners including Suppliers; and 5) The Public At Large/Local Community. Others may also play a role including public officials, if the business is in a highly regulated environment. In addition, more and more for-profit organizations are following the lead of their non-profit counterparts and building Advisory Boards or a Board of Directors to help them make better decisions.
The crux of most problems typically deals with a breakdown or flaw in one of the above listed relationships or a misread of the current market environment. The goal of our assessment process is to make sure we properly evaluate these stakeholder groups to increase the knowledge of our customers on the realities of their marketplace and the strengths of existing business relationships. We use both quantitative and qualitative tools to help us achieve this objective. It may be as simple as having a series of phone conversations, facilitating multiple focus groups or creating a targeted survey instrument to solicit feedback from a wide audience.
Bottom line is that to be successful in business today, you need to be proactive about your relationships!