We have to point clients in the right direction to take their next step, in the context of their destination. If they’re on a road-trip to Zanzibar, let’s help them get out of Cape Town first. Once they’ve reached Worcester we can help them with the next step. Instead, it feels like we’re intent on giving them the point-by-point directions for the whole journey all upfront and all the time. Often, the outcome, is that clients get lost before they find the on-ramp to the N1.
Think of the parallel between this overwhelming set of instructions and the stuff that we present to our clients in the planning process. Not only are we overwhelming them, but we’re giving too little love to the overnight stop in Nieu-Bethesda, the huddling around Lonely Planet the night before and then exploring the local fair before setting off on the next part of the journey (maybe two weeks later). We know that there are like a kabizillion things that could change between here and Zanzibar and yet, we’re still stuck in the molecular detail of the whole trip all the time. In the context of the real world, our “estimated arrival time,” based on a gazillions of assumptions loses relevance.
It feels contradictory to speak to clients as if the world is static and knowable, sort of like we describe our planning processes – in terms that promote accuracy and scientific inflexibility. Think about the process of “building an investment strategy,” by definition, an imprecise outcome (the return) managed with a painstakingly precise and detailed process. And then we all get confused when we mix up the “process” with the “outcome” – it’s the process that’s precise, not the return. If we’re driving home this level of spurious accuracy all the time, where actually, the best we’re able to do is make big obvious changes in movement, the client is bound to get bored or lost.
I feel like we’re missing a trick, leading clients to think the detail is figured out and pretending it’s static. I’d like to think we could trade time painting the detailed hypothetical picture of the future for more behavioural management in the present. Feels like there’s more to do in seeing the BIG PICTURE, embellishing the here-and-now and stacking goals in relative importance in the context of an inherently imprecise world.