Written By
Dawn Sparks
On
August 14, 2015
Posted In

Welcome to the Huddle

August 14, 2015

We recently had the pleasure of signing a new client who just blew us away with her enthusiasm about working together. She tweeted and Facebooked and spread the good news of our upcoming partnership to her team like they’d just won the lottery. We felt like we too had a winning ticket, so her joy was a good match for our own. (Shout out to Sarah R, little Ollie, and the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning team!)

We sent some delicious sweets to go with her tweets, scheduled the project kick-off, and started the internal process of preparing our team for what comes next. Only what comes next doesn’t come until October (cue the sad music).  Waiting to start with new clients is like waiting for football season to start.

Fortunately, pre-season coincides with summer Factory Week and our newest client’s enthusiasm provided extra inspiration to the SmallBox client team as we huddled up to create new plays for the client onboarding experience.

Even More Meaningful Experiences

Having just gone through the customer engagement cycle with Drew, and Business Origami with Sarah, we were able to map out the current client experience and brainstorm around how we could make it even more meaningful for both the visiting team and the home team.

We also had the benefit of hearing directly from our clients this week, as Sara, Lydia, Sarah and Teresa conducted interviews with some of our long-standing partners, several of our newest clients, and even a few people who decided not to become our clients.  There was something to learn from all of them.

One thing to note—just because you’re reimagining your process doesn’t mean that you can’t keep the things that are working, as long as they’re working for everyone. (See Lydia's post about creating, eliminating, accepting and preserving).
 
For example, our Factory Week Discovery confirmed that keeping the conversation open and two-sided (rather than a more formal “presentation of information”) helps keep new clients engaged and on the same page. Clients like that “There is dialogue about everything” (thanks for the Feedback R&R).  So we’ll continue to be very intentional around keeping the lines of communication open while we’re getting ready for kick-off. Basecamp is a great communication tool – but it’s just a tool. When it comes to collaboration, nothing beats face-to-face, or at least phone-to-phone, for getting to know your partner.
 

We also heard that transitioning from working with Biz Dev to working with the production team could be a little smoother. That’s been a hard break for me too.(Thanks ES, we hear you – and we agree!Our new plan will create more continuity and opportunities to stay connected.

The Plays 

Many of the X’s and O’s discussed this week were around how we can best come alongside new clients in helpful ways:

  • How can we prepare client teams for our sometimes wacky, analog, collaborative exercises?
  • What kinds of information about us or our process do they need to share with their team?
  • What expectations need to be set to assure that there are no surprises, except the ones that delight?

(And oh! Did we have fun with the surprise and delight part of that conversation!)

We also learned that many of our clients are hoping that our culture is contagious, so rather than sneeze and hope that it catches, we’re considering opening up some of our institutions to client participation. 

What was really cool was hearing Boxers advocate for our clients. Dan reminded us that our existing clients enjoy getting excited about new projects too, so we’re looking for new ways to celebrate those ongoing partnerships.  Leigh, our Creative Director, told us that she’d like to get to know new clients earlier – before the work begins (which demonstrates our desire to create people-centered work) So we decided on:

  1. Improved client briefs for all of the internal team
  2. Kick-off lunches that bring the two teams together to break bread and break the ice.

We’ve not finalized every play yet, but we’re feeling pretty confident that when the huddle breaks and the whistle blows, we’ll be ready to give our clients something to cheer about!