Anyone interested in the concept of engagement would be wise to look up a great post from David Ferrabee on his Able & How blog. In it, he makes a great case for viewing engagement not as a series of programmes or packages, but as a state of mind, in many ways mirroring my own thinking on CR and sustainability.
I know he was teasing me when I queried whether clients were enlightened enough to buy into this “contraversial” view, but actually it does give rise to a very interesting question.
In the current economic climate, can we afford to question what clients say they want, or is it a case of he who pays the piper calls the tune?
Here, as in many cases, the trusty MBA graduate’s answer to everything is a good one: “It depends!”
On the one hand, it is indeed a very brave (for brave read foolish) person who ever tells a client they’re wrong. On the other hand, if communicators have genuine designs on a seat at the top table – as strategic advisors, not just skilled implementers – then we have a duty to push back occasionally and seek to open their eyes to other possibilities.
The trick lies in how you do it. Criticism of the, “No but…” ilk is never likely to go down well.
Adopt a, “Yes and…” tack, though, and people tend to be a lot more receptive.