Working with OVER working for

What does it mean to work with a client as opposed to working for one?

Handling Unknowns

Consider a situation when there is a question or some uncertainty about how to solve a client issue, what does the conversation look like? Is it just you? Does the delivery team have a meeting? Do a few analysts have a debate? If you’re answering “yes”, then you’re working for a client.

Rather than talking amongst yourselves, you should be talking with the client. Bring them to you to show them the actual problem. Have a conversation and decide together how to proceed.

4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

By discussing it without your clients, you’re making their decisions. You’re assuming you know the trade offs they want made. You’re assuming you deeply understand their problems. Stop assuming. They know their needs better than you do. If you disagree, try talking less.

When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know, but if you listen, you may learn something new.
J. P. McEvoy

Scope Creep

If you’re anticipating things your clients might need someday, then you’re working for a client.

Why not spend time with the client to explain the problem you see and the solution you propose? It may not be a problem to the client. They may simply not share your concern. Alternatively, they may see the problem now, and appreciate your candor.

6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

Regardless of the outcome, you shouldn’t be deciding to add anything, especially not because the client may want it later or because “clients don’t know what they want”.

For your own sake, always keep in mind that your time is limited. Make sure that whatever you’re doing will have the biggest impact possible. It may be that the problem you see, the client has already seen. They may have made the conscious choice to not do it because your time is precious and there are other things they want more. By talking, you can learn these things and they can learn from you. Together you can make sure that the right things (and only the right things) get done.

10. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.

Show & Tell

When you have a show and tell, are you showing and telling or showing and talking? There’s an important difference.

You’re telling if you’re using a rehearsed script, glazing over rough spots, embellishing the good things, and generally trying to deliver a message.

You’re taking if you’re forthright about the gaps, seeking feedback, and trying to make sure the client understands where you are and you understand what they think of that.

Our goal with the show and tell is more than just a demo. It’s making sure that the client’s needs are getting met and if not, that we’re adjusting.

1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

Keep in mind, if you’re really working with your client, there will be few (if any) surprises at the show and tell. If you’re accustomed to seeing surprised expressions, rethink the relationship you share. Try working with them.


Do you reach out to your clients often, or do you try to find ways to delay or get out of client conversations?

Do you think the client is an important part of the process, or do you think the client needs to get out of your way and let you do your job?

Do you think you know best and your client needs to follow your lead?

Do you think that the best knowledge comes when considering your expertise and the client’s perspective?

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