Clever by half

I had a very interesting meeting yesterday and I pondered a lot, while stuffing my face with nibbles, about how easy it is to make rash decisions based on short term gains that may have long term consequences (the penny wise, pound foolish type of situation).

Ten years ago, this client was engaged to overhaul governance process in a highly reputable organisation and they did a stellar job.

So great was their reputation that they stopped bothering with continuously and consistently informing the organisation about what value they have added and how much money they have actually saved the organisation by implementing the right structures.

All of a sudden (Seven years later) they were given a termination of contract notice and everyone was running around like headless chickens trying to show that getting rid of them was not the sensible thing to do.

They were right. It has been three years since their contract was terminated and the organisation has been in rapid decline – incomplete projects, projects producing products not fit for purpose…I could go on. Now the organisation wants them back but they are too embittered to bother with them especially as there is now much more mess to clean up.

Whilst it was a really rash decision to get rid of this client (they were really and truly adding great value), the organisation was somewhat justified making that move at the time because they simply could not see the value added. To them, they could use the money saved from cutting this client off to invest in new product lines and consumer goods.

Speaking to the team yesterday, I highlighted a number of things I observed from the story and I would like to share them with you:

1. It is not good enough to show that you are good enough and rest on your oars. People simply forget good things and remember the bad so always show them how much value you add to their lives but do not be arrogant about it.

2. Constantly validate your usefulness by consistently asking how you can be of much more help and better value. This can be done by asking your client/family/friend/spouse specific questions like these:

a. In the case of a client, you could ask – “my input has saved this organisation £20,000.Do you think I could have saved much more? If yes, how did I miss the mark and what do you expect in future. If no, how can I better communicate the value I have added to your organisation to other stakeholders?”

b. In the case of a friend/family, you could ask – “we’ve had an amazing couple of months in my opinion and I value your friendship, honesty and generosity. How have I disappointed you in the last two months and how can I add better value to you as a friend/sibling/child/parent/spouse?

3. Consciously create time for the people you add value to. By time I mean 1-2-1 meetings where you switch off your phone, focus on and listen to them. It is not enough to buy all the gifts in the world, improve your client’s portfolio or whatever. People truly remember the time you have spent with them and that is an intangible gift worth more than gold.

In other news, I need to take my own advice. I gave a friend tickets to the Kazimir Malevich abstract art exhibition at the Tate Modern but he threw them away because he thought I was playing practical jokes on him.


No, I did not get angry but it made me realise that it is so easy to expect something of someone but when that expectation is not communicated clearly, disappointment is imminent.

As the true Christian that I am , I would give him another ticket and hopefully he would enjoy it as much as I did. You should get your tickets too…it really was an eye opening exhibition for me.

Have a fab day people.



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