Looking for the Goalie

Hockey goal

I joined Citisoft a month ago and it seems that this is long enough to be asked to write your first blog.  So here goes!!

I was racking my brain trying to decide what I should write about and yesterday I was fortunate enough to sit down with my friend Stuart for a cup of tea.  We were discussing the challenges of large complex projects from both the client and the service providers perspective.  He made the comment that as a client, the ask is to always have one person who is ultimately accountable on the provider side; i.e. one business sponsor.  I agreed that this is the best approach so that our clients have one person who has a clear understanding of all things associated with the project. We then started to discuss how clients “face off” (hockey reference – must make it a little Canadian) with us and that they often don’t practice what they preach. In his example, the client has three or four people who “own” a program.  How can three or four people own a program?  This brought up the fact that we often hear that our clients want “one throat to choke”.

I have heard the term “one throat to choke” from many clients and while I understand the intent in the saying, I would disagree with the words. I don’t really think clients want to choke anyone in the literal sense!  This saying started some time in the 90’s and it was supposed to represent the simplification and consolidation of technology. 

I would argue that the adage elicits a sense of violence or warring. We don’t have referees or linesman engaged in our programs. We certainly don’t have a penalty box and I don’t think anyone wants to be kicked out of the game for choking. Yet clients will have multiple players shooting multiple pucks at the lone goalie. In reality, we can only truly handle a one-on-one face off.

I think what clients really want is simply someone who is accountable, who understands the program, their business and is empowered to make decisions.  Whether you are a service provider, a consultant, a software vendor, or the client, the ask is to have clear and concise direction from a business sponsor. So, let’s take the violence out of the relationship and look for the goalie on both sides.