Checking boxes

The other day I was having a conversation with a business leader who was versed with developing pitches for his company in order to convince customers of their value proposition. He was with a software business so while there are standardised capabilities and products, everything they sell to businesses are quite bespoke and require them to go into a process with the customers.

Therefore, he was basically selling dreams that are mostly realisable but will take time. He was the one who tries to convince his customers to come on the journey with his company. Meanwhile, in order to make the sale, his technical guys will have to do the hard work of filling in technical specification forms, making sure that they fulfill specific requirements of any Request-for-Proposals (RFP). On the other hand, he had to spend time with these technical guys to also make sure what he promised was feasible, and within the delivery capabilities of the firm.

His tech guys are stretched, between trying to check the boxes for the client in terms of the specifications and producing detailed documentation, with having to invest time to help refine the overall pitch. What should they prioritise and what is more important? The industrial complex wants us to prioritise checking boxes, and meeting explicable criteria, especially those written down. Yet in reality, we know that’s not get us over the line and truly help us thrive.

So I’d argue that the technical guys will need to get good at making sure boxes can be checked but for their own benefit, they should focus on the pieces beyond that. As much as possible, we want to automate those box-checking so that intelligent people can be freed to do the creative work. And perhaps then, schools can begin to educate rather than to ‘train’ – to bring up people who do the creative work rather than be competent box-checkers.