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6 steps of the client-expert dance

They say it takes two to tango. Well, it also takes two to get the most out of the services based on expertise. This can be about surgery, coaching, architecture, consulting, therapy, design, or art restoration – you may be paying them, but you can either tell them what to do or get the value you paid for. Either – or.

So if this is a good description of your kind of work, here are some important differences to realize between working for someone and working on a project of theirs as an expert.

And people
  • Decision-making: The client can say “no” to a procedure, but not tell you how to do it.
    – Expertise: The definition of a desirable outcome comes from the client, but you set what is possible and probable

    – Responsibility: You can show someone a “ladder” but can’t make them “climb” – the outcome of your work is not something you can really affect

    – Scope: Scope is an evolving matter, that cannot be nailed down from day 1 without deviation

    – Nature of relationship: less one-off transactional kind of thing, more like a long-term cooperation

    – Autonomy: You should be free to “do your magic” without backseat driving or having to explain every step to an amateur.

    Make sure your prospects understand these differences, and your contracts also reflect them. Without those, not only will your quality of life diminish, but your work will be less valuable for the client as well. Lose-lose.

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