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More output is not always better

The value we bring is not always increased with greater volumes of output from our efforts

Lawyers, researchers, academics, analysts: you often do some great work.

I regularly see a role for myself in translating the output of your work into something that people can use. The people that run businesses, departments and corporate functions: they need something concise and efficient that enables them to proceed with the rest of their business. They don't rely solely on the proof that you have worked long and hard and produced exhaustive results.

Usually, because the client (internal or external) has come up with a question, which you may have determined can be answered using your core-strength methodology (of research, analysis, justification, explanation, evidence, opinion, etc.), you sometimes jump to the conclusion that the value you bring to the client is the evidence of your work: the data tables, the interview transcripts, the long lists of web sites and quotes and references, and so on; when in fact, from the lens of the client, the value is in the answer to their question.

Do the exhaustive work. Deliver an executive summary. Deliver a separate business case, or analytical report. Deliver a separate appendix, where everything is referenced and proven. Let the clients use the distinct deliverables as necessary.

If you have a client that is focused on something else, and is outsourcing a task to you, either because they don't have time to work on it themselves, or because you ought to be better at it than they are, or both; the worst thing you can do is answer their query with a 20 page list of research results. It's only half the job done. If you deliver this, the client then has to spend time doing the work of making the results useful for their purposes.

This is my favourite part of this job: determining why the client is asking the questions they are asking, and translating the results of field-work into digestible, useful, actionable answers to their questions, to enable the client to pursue and achieve their goals.

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