The Smarter Cities Challenge is my first professional customer facing consulting-like engagement. I have been feeling my way through the process and am fortunate enough to be surrounded by the team I introduced you to yesterday. The real key to success here is getting your customers to open up and potentially share some not so flattering information about their organization.
- Avoid Yes/No questions. Instead, act open ended questions: e.g. Tell me how you work with partners today? How do you approach sharing information?
- Ensure your questions are addressing the personal impact to the customer: How does this process impact your ability to get your job done? What would it mean to you to improve the process?
- Listen! but be and active listener: This is not about you. This is about the customer and the customer has the answers which will lead you to the right recommendation.
- Do not solution during discovery: Ensure you get the whole picture before you offer a solution.
The greatest strength of the Smarter Cities Challenge Houston team is that we are a group of highly talented, results oriented, problem solvers….that said we tend to jump right into a solution to get the problem solved now! We agreed as a team, to focus more on open ended questions allowing the stake holders to do more of a brain dump! This approach really helped the stakeholders open up to us.
…now, on to Houston…
In city hall, Mayor Parker pointed out the map of the world…it was one of the more interesting views of the globe I have ever seen….
I learned an interesting fact from Mayor Parker: Houston is the number one destination for UHAUL drop offs! Who would have thought?