Now that Red Badger is up and running, I thought I would write my first blog on one of the underlying principles of Red Badger. Ethical Consulting.
If you do a search on Google for Ethical Consulting you will get in your top 3 search results, a change management company, a company called ethical consulting and some guiding principles of ethical consulting defining what ethical behaviour is. When I mentioned ethical consulting to my friends and family, their first instincts were that Red Badger only delivered software for International Development programs, charities or green sustainability!
Ethical Consulting can mean different things to different people dependent on the context. Red Badger did not define the term but to us it has a specific meaning.
In my experience of running projects, if the relationship is ever fraught with the client, the majority of the time it is not normally down to the incompetence of the project team or in fact the client. However, projects can run over time, over budget and a blame culture ensues. To the project team, the client can appear unreasonable because they want everything and they want it yesterday. The client on the other hand feels they are not getting value for money. In this situation pressure builds, relationships can become difficult, morale is affected and as a result, so is productivity.
If you look at the underlying reasons for this, it should be fairly easy to resolve. The issues outlined above are, more often than not, a symptom of behaviour that started at the very beginning of the project lifecycle. Sales. Most companies in this business are driven by margin. The internal sales process is masked from the client and Sales staff are encouraged to up the rates of each resource to as high as they can get away with. They are pushed to be aggressive in this approach by being given large commission incentives on the size of the sale and not on the final margin. This results in sales (as large as possible as well please!) being driven by personal gain of the sales force to make as much money as possible for themselves as well as the company they work for. Once the project team tries to deliver, even with the aid of lean methodologies, it is not surprising that the client is ready to play hardball.
Now to Red Badger’s approach…
Our intention is to be transparent and fair from the start. We want our clients to feel like they are going to get value for money before we have delivered anything. We want to make a profit too, don’t get me wrong, but we want relationships that are built on a mutual understanding of what both our clients and us want. If we can work together from the beginning so that we are already working as a collaborative team built on fairness by the time it gets to delivery, it will benefit everyone. We can then leverage Scrum to empower the client in deciding what gets delivered, when. The client gets great value for money, the relationship is built on honesty, the working environment is infinitely better, morale is high and productivity and quality is increased as a result. This is our idea of the meaning of Ethical Consulting.
Great software is delivered. A solid relationship is built.