Sunday, January 25, 2015

Review: Getting Naked

Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding The Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty by Patrick Lencioni

Back in September when I was dealing with the severance and job search, a former supervisor (well, my two bosses reported to him but I was a workplace rich with friendships) found out about my situation and reached out to me. We talked on the phone for almost an hour and at the end he said "Give me your address, I have a book I want you to read." When I worked for him, I was always asking for recommendations. Sometimes he's given my titles, sometimes he'd hand me books. This wasn't the first time since I left that he's mailed me a book he thought I'd like.

So I get this book and smirked at the title because that's probably what the author intended, and then dove in. Much of the book is a fictional story of a consultant from a large strategy consultancy. They do well, have a lot of billable hours, but whenever they go up against a much smaller consultancy in a nearby suburb, they always lose. It gets to the point where even the mention of the consultancy or the founder just drives them crazy.

And then one day the lead character is called into an office. It's announced that the founder has put his consultancy up for sale and the larger corporation bought them. It will be our lead character's responsibility to integrate himself with the smaller consultancy in order to facilitate the merger of consultants, culture and customers.

He feels like this is a career-killing assignment, but out of obligation he reports to the elementary-school-turned-business-park where this quirky little consultancy headquarters. He quickly finds a culture vastly different from the one he came from, a much more engaged set of clients (who pay more - happily), and a thriving practice that actually turns away business and customers. What he doesn't find is a single salesperson.

He quickly realizes it's not going to be a quick transition but that there's also quite a bit that he can learn and take back to his organization to make it better.

I really appreciated this book, especially at this juncture. While I've essentially been in a service role for most of my career, I find myself at a place where that is truly the core of what we do. In some of my past jobs, it's been *how* I did it, but now it's *what* we do. I really enjoyed this book - I found it to be affirming, confirming, enlightening, educational and convicting. It turns out that I was doing some of this already, having stumbled upon it in some form or fashion, but there were other areas I could definitely improve, or that I'd slipped up on in recent years. And it put an intentional framework and emphasis on things I now need to make sure I'm intentionally and blatantly emphasizing and I'd really recommend this book.

In brief, he says that the three fears are:

1. Fear of Losing the Business. He says this fear means you're focusing on the wrong things and your client will inherently sense that. And also that it's not always bad to lose some business. Some business you just don't want. Or sometimes it results in a really, really, really long game.

2. Fear of Being Embarrassed. In the services and consultancy businesses, you wants to appear as the expert because you want people to hire you for that expertise. But if you don't have any humility, you won't help your clients and you'll undervalue the expertise they bring, living in that space day in and day out.

3. Fear of Feeling Inferior. Like the last two, but slightly different. One example was intentionally asking dumb questions. They could lead to great conversations or allow you to bond with executives at the firm who had the same questions but were scared to put voice to them.

He said this was the first time he's written a book using himself (or his consultancy) as a direct example, so he felt a little awkward, that maybe he wasn't being humble. But I thought it was a good, quick read.

He then goes on to explain how to overcome those three fears. You will, of course, want to read the book to learn how he unpacks each of these.
  • Always Consult instead of Sell
  • Give Away the Business
  • Tell the Kind Truth
  • Enter the Danger
  • Ask Dumb Questions
  • Make Dumb Suggestions
  • Celebrate Your Mistakes
  • Take a Bullet for the Client
  • Honor the Client's Work
  • Do the Dirty Work
  • Admit Your Weaknesses and Limitations
You can, of course, find this book on Amazon or other bookseller websites. (If you purchase using this link Amazon contributes to my coffee fund.)

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