born in the waxing gibbous
Starting a consultation process- framing communication 
24th-May-2011 08:21 pm
honey mead
from Persona Prime at

My top tool now for framing communication with clients and partners is Google docs.

I use them very beginning of the consultation process.  The version feature makes it safe for the client to feel free to brainstorm.  The commenting feature makes it even safer to ask questions without feeling intrusive.  The iterative process makes it a real exercise in a new type of “active listening.”  And because it is in google docs it can be asynchronous. (Though I do wish gdocs had a better notification process of changes :-/)

Even before we do a legal doc I now create a google document of expectations that we will address in the legal doc.

It also makes it much easier to do NDA’s where clients can easier post their appendixes of exceptions to my standardized doc.

Often I start the process by creating the document and sharing with the people that will need to own the process. I start with an outline format based on informational interviews we have had earlier.  Sometimes I even start the document during the meeting with the client esp they are new to google docs.  This way I can explain it with them in person.  One nice thing about starting with an outline is that it gives structure and framing without dominating.  It is much easier to add to a outline than it is to rewrite what someone else have written.

I try at first to focus on goals.  This might just be because I am a natural negotiator but I believe if we understand the true intent of all parties the rest is flexible and can change with the iterative process.

  1. Client/partner stated goals
  2. My interpretation of our goals
  3. Group goals (interpretations of other maybe not directly involved in process eg customers)
  4. Evaluation of value of the goal (prioritization etc)
  5. Assessment of if achieved
  6. Metric of success
  7. Constraints
  8. Deadlines

I also typically create a basecamp project immediately.  I admit I don’t often keep it updated daily but it is a good place to organize and add and assign action items in a concrete fashion.

And this doesn’t exactly belong here… but I also typically immediately make clients create their social media presences.

This means:

  1. Checking and getting domain names
  2. twitter accounts
  3. facebook page
  4. wordpress blog
  5. and setting them up with a designer for immediate branding :-)

Just because there are too many evil squatters out there.  I don’t know how many times I have been playing with a keyphrase and had some jerk decide since I tweeted it he should have it :-/  I am pretty sure it is automated at this point…

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