Like many consultants in the Agile field I have always worked in a very collaborative way, building up partnerships, pairing, and recommending colleagues for engagements I’m not able to take on myself. This has been a successful business model for me, and my experience has shown that whenever I help another Agile consultant, I get helped in return. Not necessarily (in fact often not) directly, but through an odd, meandering chain of good will. I’d go as far as to say my business thrives on this collaborative model. It is simple and effective, and helps build a different kind of economy.
Recently I have taken this idea a step further and have begun recommending direct competitors (for want of a better term) even when I am able to take on the work myself. It isn’t that I don’t want the work—I do, but I also want the client to make an informed choice, in line with the set of recommendations made on this blog a few weeks ago—see How to hire an Agile consultant.
What I am seeking here is to build a climate of abundance. Competition, as we know, creates a climate of scarcity, pushes prices down and drives clients to focus on cheap, rather than good. I believe there is more than enough work to be shared amongst the high quality and integrity-driven Agile facilitators, coaches and consultants, and by collaborating not only will we create an economy of generosity, but we may actually find that consultancy rates increase. Our clients will be moved to seek true business value over simple monetary value, and to focus on quality over quick fixes—exactly the mindset we want to foster in those building software.
I have just made my third offer which included a recommendation to talk to a specific Agile consultancy before deciding who to engage. The last two recommendations included a representatives name and email, to encourage the action. I consider locality, among other dimensions, when making a recommendation. Local consultants can best support a client on a long-term basis. I also do my best to make a recommendation for agencies and individuals I know well, or who have achieved a good reputation in the Agile space. So far I haven’t lost any work—in fact, even if I did, is this really a loss? If my true goal is client satisfaction then a potential client choosing a better alternative could be considered a win, rather than a loss.
We live in interesting times.