July 19, 2017
A coworker recently taught me a client management technique that I love.
When a stakeholder asks for a change to the software we’re developing, my ingrained response is, roughly, “Sure thing”. Then later: “I’m working on that issue we discussed now”. And finally: “It’s done”.
Here’s an alternate approach. When feasible, skip the first two responses and go straight to the third. So, if I receive an email asking for a change, I do it as soon as I can, and my first and last message to the client is: “It’s done”.
It’s a variation on the adage “Underpromise; overdeliver”. In this case, I’m not promising anything, the most under- of underpromises. And I deliver in a moment when most stakeholders have pushed the problem completely out of their minds. That surprise is more than they expected.
This technique requires asynchronous, patient communication between team members. It creates a shorter interaction with less back-and-forth. And it establishes you as the type of programmer who just gets things done.