Any project may involve one or more stages. Although
all of this list may not be used, those that are will generally
follow this order. Expanded definitions of each one are given
Testing the fit
Defining the engagement
Starting the work
way to get in touch with EO is to contact Don Yates by:
When you contact him, he will be looking for the best way for
you to start getting to know each other. This is essential because
the quality of the relationship will determine how well he will
be able to serve you. He will usually suggest that you meet. If
at all possible, this will be over a meal because it is relaxed,
and there is something about eating together that seems to help
The next step is
for Don to learn about your needs and for you to learn about what
he has to offer. Although you may finish this
during your first meeting, it will probably take more time than
that. He will usually visit your office and meet some of your
people. He may do a small piece of demonstration work with you
like helping you design a meeting or participate in one so that
you, and possibly others, can see if his style and capability
seem right for you. He may also give you one or more pieces he
has written to let you learn more about what he knows and how
In a fairly short time both you and he will know
if he is the right person to help you. He has found that there
is seldom disagreement on this, whether the answer is yes or no.
This means that if the answer does turn out to be no, you part
amicably often with the agreement that at another time the fit
might be right. If the answer is yes, you move on to define the
At this point you
will mutually agree on the design of the engagement.
As with any activity, you will look at the four factors of any
- The purpose of the engagement
- The products or outcomes that will fulfill it.
- The process, or at least the approach to it, that you will
use to generate those outcomes.
- The capabilities each party will need to provide to support
and make possible the process.
Once the engagement has been defined you
will agree on the method of contracting. EO has worked
based on verbal agreements and with written contracts. This usually
depends on how formal your contracting procedures are. However,
it is generally better if there is some form of written agreement
that assures everyone has a clear understanding. The basic intention
is to develop a strong relationship. Therefore, the contracting
is primarily around how the parties will work together and how
you will value the work.
There are two steps to actually starting
the work. One of these is for the catalyst to get to
know your organization and for your people to get to know him.
He usually does this through a period of talking with individuals
and groups. There is no set pattern to this, and it continues
as he gets more involved. However, the first pass at it will probably
be accomplished in a day or two at most.
The second step is for you to decide just where you want to
start working. Although together you will have outlined the process
before starting, you will have to now decide on the specific starting
point. This will usually be in the area of greatest value and
urgency to you. You also want to start work in an area where the
catalyst can meld into what is going on rather than create some
new effort around his working with you. The whole point is to
start getting as much return on investment of time as possible
and to cause as little perturbation of your organization as possible.
Once started, the
work evolves as the relationship grows. You come
to understand how best to work together
and where to work to produce the most value. One process you will
develop is a way to assess, as you move along, how you are doing.
This allows you to maintain and grow both your relationship and
the results you get from it. In this way you together assure that
the engagement is positive for all involved.
Often you cannot clearly see the exact
end point at the beginning. Even if that is so, you will
both know when it is time to stop. Some outside event may force
this. More often, though, you will have a sense that you have
fulfilled the purpose you first defined. You may agree on a time
to restart, or you may just let it present itself. However the
end occurs, Don has almost always found it to be a positive situation
leaving you with an ongoing relationship that with some of his
previous clients has lasted many years as a strong personal friendship.