(How Not To) Do The Right Thing

The names and details have been changed to protect the innocent but I wanted to provide a real world example that speaks to one of Tanner Friedman’s core goals and an area we blog on quite often: treating people the right way. While that operating tenet applies, as far as we’re concerned, in and out of the workplace this particular scenario occurred in a “professional” setting and is wrong on a multitude of levels. 

A client and its consultant made the decision that a particular sales piece was necessary to effectively engage its target audience. It would not be a viral but rather an initiative that was high-profile, branded and aimed at soliciting a particular response. In other words, it would need to be very polished and professional.

As particular components of this piece were outside the capabilities of the partner firm from a technology standpoint, it became apparent that an outside vendor would need to be brought in to assist.  However, the vendor was nickel and dimed on price by the consultant to the point that an agreement could not be reached. Instead, the consulting firm in question decided it would attempt to replicate the capabilities of the vendor in-house. The end product, in turn, was woefully inadequate with the client aghast at what they were presented. The project was effectively back to square one.

How wrong was all of this? Let me count the ways:

(1)  The client obviously was not communicated to property from the beginning. Appropriate counsel by the consultant would have detailed and explained the outside costs that would be necessary and incurred for producing the piece. Either this firm told the client they were doing it all internally (and would not incur outside costs) or, they made a promise on price that was unrealistic. Regardless, false expectations were generated.

(2)  Proper respect was not shown to the outside vendor. While, oftentimes, particular budget realities are in play, unrealistic demands on what a particular service or skill set should cost is unprofessional and disrespectful. It is telling and interesting in this particular case that no other outside vendor was willing to be involved. Perhaps the “low ball” request was borne of a desire by the consultant for a large markup that would be passed on to their client.

(3)  The consulting firm’s liason for the client was put in a terrible position, forced by a higher up decision maker to attempt to produce this piece himself with inferior technology. Can you imagine the intense pressure this individual was under; put in the middle and unable to do what was right?

In the end, no one was treated ethically—not client, vendor, nor employee. A head scratcher and case study for how NOT to build relationships, earn trust or operate in general. Final takeaway? Re-read what they did, and then do the opposite.