Building solutions vs. "being order takers"

SOUTHWORKS' Definition of Success, Part 1. Thinking beyond the reqs to give our clients the solution they really need, not just what they've asked for.

Every top organization has its own secret sauce – a unique recipe that guarantees success.
What is SOUTHWORKS', you ask?

Well, we shouldn’t really tell you because it’s a secret – but since you asked so nicely, we’ll let you in on it.

Our secret sauce is quite simple really: thinking beyond our customers’ requirements. It’s a central aspect of how we do things and it’s our way of ensuring that we really give them the solution they need, not just something they asked for because they thought they needed it.

Just to be clear, this doesn’t mean we go around telling our clients that they’re wrong or they don’t know what they need, and neither do we make decisions behind their backs. It’s about looking beyond what they’ve asked us for at the start of the project to see their broader challenges and objectives from multiple angles and explore together how we can provide a solution that will truly give them what they need. Or to put it another way, it’s about helping them succeed rather than just doing what they say.

This might sound slightly blunt, but it comes from a place of wanting to do the best possible job for our customers. Thinking beyond their requirements means digging deeper, sometimes using short-burst projects of around 3–6 weeks to explore the scope while constantly keeping our focus on the goals we ultimately want to accomplish rather than how to do X or how quickly we can finish Y. And if we think there’s a better way to do things, we’ll tell them. Understanding what success looks like for our customers is essential to getting this approach right, and we do this through continuous conversation over the 3-to-6-week sprint.

For us, being able to tell a customer that “we’ve done what you asked us to do” isn’t enough – that’s not what we call a job well done. They’re giving up their precious time and money, and an important part of our job is to take their input and articulate it into their definition of success for the project.

One thing we have to be wary of in this process is analysis paralysis  (the inability to make a decision because you’re overthinking the problem); this is something we aim to avoid while looking at the details together with the customer. Adopting a mindset of always working towards success is crucial – and it’s how we go beyond our customers’ requirements to build genuine solutions for them.

How does your organization define success? If you’re interested to learn more about thinking beyond the reqs and our solution-focused approach, read more of our culture articles where we share more about the way we work and the principles we live by at SOUTHWORKS to achieve great outcomes for our clients.