So we are going to build a website together. We expect it will cost about as much as a small apartment or a luxury car.
A vision exists. A budget is in consideration. A reasonable time-frame has been allocated. A consultant is in discovery mode.
We sit at a table together. The vision owner knows the story he wishes to unfold. The consultant knows the art of asking for a story.
The consultant is relaxed and thus creative and potent. The reason for that relaxed state of mind is that his time is being valued at the hourly rate he is currently asking for. This is not a competitive bid process. It is a consultation. And the highest calling of a consultant is to always advise and act in such a way as to make himself potentially redundant in further stages of the work being discussed. Of course he also wishes to leave the door open for possible ongoing extensions to his brief.
The meeting starts on time.
The story is told.
The charts and diagrams and mindmaps are sketched and resketched.
The due diligence and the necessity to justify is highlighted and is not avoidable.
We enter a second and perhaps third, meeting. We begin to feel we understand the vision. We feel we are moving out of 'orientation' into 'discovery'. We like that.
The visionary is time-constrained. Each workday is stacked to overflowing with calls on his attention. At times he allocates his attention in 30-second snapshots. Right now we have an hour together. Relaxed intensity is the dance. Communication is the key. Capturing the vision is beyond any technology. Perhaps a technician is required in this early phase of the work. Essentially though, vision can only transmit between visionaries. The ideal consultant is a visionary steeped in technical exposure. The temptation is to believe that the task of manifesting vision is a technical issue, and can be defined, constrained and mapped out, as a recipe for well trained cooks to prepare. It can indeed happen like that. It is indeed the goal. However, vision is nebulous. It ebbs and flows and alters course. The required process is more like the fine art of painting, than the outputting of hamburgers into little plastic boxes. As we proceed into the building phase of the project we need to have in place a mechanism to assure we are on track. So we consider it appropriate to check back in with the vision-owner, periodically, to allow for his further direction. We call this process of work-stretches followed by review, followed by work-stretches followed by review... iteration. Some people call it Action Learning, or Action Science. As we move on from consultations into development, at times we have to work alone. Otherwise we become stressed by too many inputs. At times we need to work collaboratively. Otherwise we lose our way and go down an inappropriate pathway. We build as a painter builds. Layer upon layer, onto a blank canvas. As each layer of the canvas is constructed by intellect, science, sweat, inspiration, and feeling, the vision owner sees the delivered-back interpretative-outcome of the story as told already, and inevitably - assuredly - quite rightfully - will instantaneously know that immediate and enthusiastic verbal and financial acknowledgement of creativity and effort is called forth and that also, modification of direction and learning and targets is already arising out of the visionary temple. To maintain ownership of the vision, the client must now be free to re-express the story; re-target and re-prioritise; and re-evaluate projected resources. The system established at the outset ~Must Then~ allow for that visionary ownership to continue throughout the development process.
The state of the art in management of delivery of vision via software is called Agile Development.
The older waterfall model can also be still relied on to deliver well-constrained results. Entering that path, is a choice sometimes necessary. It is good for all parties going that way to review the documented limitations of that system, and the statistical chances of getting the results expected, via it.
[Part 2 in preparation]