The 'Show, Don't Tell' Principle That Propels SOUTHWORKS Success

Johnny Halife explains the importance of demonstrating what we can do rather than simply describing or explaining our intentions.

“Show, don’t tell” is a core principle that we live by at SOUTHWORKS; it emphasizes the importance of demonstrating what we can do rather than simply describing or explaining our intentions. We firmly believe that showcasing our work in a tangible form is more effective than relying purely on verbal and written communication.

There are two main scenarios where we might employ this principle: one is when we need to showcase our experience and capabilities; we can do this through a demo, sample, prototype, POC, or even a diagram. This shows that we know what we’re doing, because rather than saying “we did this or that”, we actually show what we’ve done in the past, which proves that we’re both capable and trustworthy.

The other situation where we typically show rather than just tell is when we’re demonstrating an idea or proposal to a client – and this is something that happens on a daily basis. When projects get complicated, and sometimes when something goes sideways, we often hear people in our industry saying “we believe that it’s better to do X” or “we should have done Y”. The problem is, it can often be hard for clients to understand what the “X” or “Y” really means in practicality. Explaining in writing by email or verbally during a meeting simply isn’t enough, especially when it’s something complex or new. That’s why we don’t just tell, we show what we mean (and just to be clear, we’re not saying that verbal communication isn’t important, just that telling should always be supported by the showing aspect).

Humans learn visually. That means we want to see things – sometimes when an idea becomes more complex, words aren’t enough to explain what it means or how long it’ll take to implement. At SOUTHWORKS, whenever we have a great idea we want to propose to our clients we like to demonstrate it physically; it may not be fully baked, and we won’t do it in a way that would require us to do the work twice over, but showing what we mean with something tangible gives the concept substance and reinforces why we’re suggesting a different way of doing something.

Our “show, don’t tell” principle applies through the entire lifecycle of a project, from the beginning when we demonstrate our capabilities using samples of our past work, through the middle when we need to demonstrate a proposal, to the end when the time comes to show where we started from and how we arrived at the final delivery. Ensuring that the ideas and solutions we come up with are effectively transmitted to others helps us to create an engaging and memorable experience for them, rather than getting tangled up in technical jargon or overly complex concepts.

Just because we place the emphasis on showing what we’re doing rather than just talking about it, we need to be crystal clear on one thing: This doesn’t mean we don’t create any documentation. We understand that we need to record information about a project, both for clarity and future reference. That’s why we complement our samples and demos with plenty of documentation, including end-of-week and end-of-project reports. This is important when it comes to maintaining the high standards of work we’re known for – our commitment to quality includes communication, whether that comes in visual, written, or some other form.

Showing, and not only telling, helps us to inspire our clients with confidence and strengthen our relationships with them, because we’re demonstrating our capabilities through work we’ve already done. It builds trust, showcases our expertise, gives credibility to our methods, and allows our output to shine. For all those reasons, it’s a cornerstone of SOUTHWORKS’ success.

Want to read more about SOUTHWORKS projects? Check out our customer success stories here, or check us out on Github.