In the article Agile Breakfast at Tiffany’s we wrote about the importance of paying attention to our people and always putting them at the forefront of processes and procedures. People require attention and dedication, and procedures and processes require to be followed. People are not hired to follow procedures, but procedures are made to be of service to employees.
Another value of the Agile Manifesto is “cooperating with the customer rather than insisting on firm contracts.” Seems meaningful and also a little scary? What if a client deceives us? And what if he “comes up” with new items and product features? …
The client, on the other hand, also has his fears. What if it doesn’t work out as I imagined? And what if it’s not on time? And what if it costs more than I had planned? …
It is evident that both sides of the contractual process have their fears. To each side in this process, fear is justified and very meaningful. But where did that fear come from?
Maybe from (mis)trust. When we perform a service or sell a product, there is a completely understandable need to protect ourselves with the contract. The client also has a need to protect himself with the contract, which leads us to think that we have no problem. Both sides insist on a contract, which should be perfectly fine. If a side breaks the contract, the security clause of the contract will be activated and some penalties will be charged. But then what? Can we expect further cooperation?
This is where we come to another, very important value from the Agile Manifesto, cooperation versus a firm contract. This value is strongly related to the first agile value – people versus process. The first agile value shows us how we want to communicate to internal resources. Through another agile value, we get clear directions in which way we want to communicate with external resources, with clients.
If we accept the fact that clients are people with their needs and fears, we will be able to understand them better. Better understanding leads to better communication. Better communication leads to building trust. Without trust, you can read that in every business literature, there is no business.
We have never needed trust more than we do now. When clients think about their clients and their clients think about their clients. The client needs to feel that we care. His success is our success too. In the end, without a client, there is no business.
When working with our clients, the first question is always: “How are you? How do you handle yourself in this situation? ” and not until then comes the job talk. Because clients are first and foremost people, with their own problems and fears. A small dose of humanity can brighten someone’s day, or even change their lives. One small tip can help a client solve some of their big problems.
So the next time you make a contract, do the most important job beforehand, build trust with your client. Show understanding and communicate clearly and transparently. Then, and only then, does the signature on the contract have real and unambiguous value. Because we really care about the client.
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