What is a “Thought Partner”? According to Forbes, it’s defined this way:
“A Thought Partner is someone who: Challenges your thinking. Causes you to modify or change your paradigms, assumptions or actions. Has information or a way of thinking that provokes you to innovate or otherwise leads to value creation in your business, career or life.”
Though around a long time, today it’s a buzzy term and growing in popularity though sometimes misunderstood and undervalued (one CEO I know dismissively referred to it as “waxing philosophical”). Although we Americans tend to value hard work and doing stuff more than thinking about stuff thought partnership is something todays’ executives are asking for.
For us at Emelar Consulting Group we believe thought partnership is a central component of consulting. So what does thought partnership in action look like?
A Thought Partner Learns First
“Our goal is to ignore symptoms and fix the root cause of the problem.” – Jesse Theiler, Emelar Consulting Group
The first component of thought partnership is learning. Customers engage us to solve a problem. If they had a simple solution, they wouldn’t engage us! In order for us as thought partners to bring creative solutions we must first learn more about the problem. Our goal is to ignore symptoms and fix the root cause of the problem. There are many ways to do this, but a simple technique we use to uncover root cause is called “5 Why’s“.
A Tool for Thought Partnership – “5 Whys”
Here’s a common scenario we hear from customers about to implement Salesforce:
Problem: Our sales reps do not meet their sales goals.
Why? – They aren’t selling enough. (first “why”)
Why? – They don’t have enough conversations with prospects. (second “why”)
Why? – We don’t know. (third “why”)
Why? – We’re not sure what they are doing every day. (fourth “why”)
Why? – We don’t have a formal sales process. (fifth “why”)
In this example (and it happens A LOT) this customer might have purchased Salesforce in hopes to fix a perceived problem of “not enough conversations”. Unfortunately, this is just a symptom (as are the rest of Why’s 1-4) when the root cause is a lack of a formal sales process. Although Salesforce will most definitely enable processes, the problem here is they don’t have a process to enable. The thought partner value? Create a formal sales process first, implement Salesforce second.
Using 5 Whys to cause the customer to think about their situation in a different way is an example of a Thought Partner in action. This is just one technique Emelar Consulting Group uses as a thought partner to help you drive value out of your Salesforce investment.