Does Anybody Actually Enjoy Being Surprised?

man pulling back a curtain to reveal whats behind it

Author: Maggie Bolt

The anticipation is exciting: a “Ta-Da!” after a dramatic drumroll. These “Ta-Da’s” are usually most effective after the audience is kept in the dark, unaware of what lies under the velvet curtain. While contributing to dramatic effect in a magic show, drumrolls and big reveals should remain on stage.

When talking about a client who has decided to make a fundamental change to their company, and entrust a third-party contractor with this change, their reaction to a surprise is a lot less positive.  Now, when the unknown thing under the curtain could potentially alter a company’s financial, organizational and operational wellbeing – even if this change is a good thing—the worst place for that client to be is in the dark.

We have a saying here, at TPG – “No surprises, good or bad”.

This means that, while there can be good news and bad news that we share, this news should never come as a surprise. This is achieved by keeping the client in the loop through the entire process. Open, honest and direct communication throughout the project builds trust with the client and instills the confidence that the projects are on the right track and we know what we are doing.

It may seem exciting to hide away in an office only to return to deliver a “Ta-Da” presentation to show off the exciting solutions that were found. But the reality of it is, when working with a group of people you have just met, it is often difficult to figure out exactly what they need and what their vision of “done” looks like.

More often than not, your idea of where their company should be, and their idea of where their company should be, are drastically different. Therefore, working in a vacuum will likely result in the client group and the contracted group being misaligned, and the drumroll moment to end in a flop.

Requiring key stakeholders to be involved throughout the decision-making process ensures alignment and adjustment as a project goes along.

The people who will be directly affected by the change (i.e. the people who actually work in the company) will have some say in their own solutions, making for a seamless transition when the project is over and the solutions are handed off to the client.

The downside to this approach, is that at the end of the project, there is no “Ta-Da” moment. However, it drastically improves the likelihood of sustainability and both short-term and long-term profitability of the recommended solutions.

When talking about a company, versus a dramatic show, we have found that tangible cost savings and realistic solutions are often more exciting than a big surprise ending—even if it doesn’t involve a velvet curtain.

TPG has developed a unique approach to management consulting that has proven effective, centered around building trust with open, honest and direct communication. Get in touch with one of our industry experts to learn more!