Shamir Duverseau

Choose Your Partner through Diagnosis & Design

Someone once said, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Both the origin and context of this quote are somewhat obscure and open to interpretation, but it comes to mind whenever I think about the importance of seeking the right help at the right time, particularly in business.

For example, to meet specific business goals, you and your team may have reached the conclusion that more digital expertise and resources are needed. There are hundreds if not thousands of agencies and consulting firms that specialize in digital marketing, strategy, and technology and further specialize in a particular market segment. If you are seeking a partner to support your digital efforts, is finding one that simply focuses on your target market sufficient to be considered the right help at the right time?

Of course, cost is likely a factor in the decision making, as well as the likeability of the team. But I would argue that none of the aforementioned criteria predict whether a firm can actually help you meet your business goals. You may not even know the obstacles your business must overcome in order to meet those business goals—a fact that makes it all the harder to choose the right partner to see you through.

To find the right help at the right time, you need a process that is not simply focused on personalities or price—although those are factors—but on discovery, diagnosis, and design.

Discovery

To provide a framework for this process, think about a visit to the doctor. No matter how much you like the provider’s personality, or the price of your copay, your primary concern is their ability to address your health concerns. You want them to take the time to understand your symptoms, review your test results, and apply their expertise and knowledge to properly diagnose your problem.

Your organization is no different. Before you can begin solving problems, you first need to understand what they are. Engaging a third party—ideally the agency you hope to enlist over the long term—can help you conduct a thorough exploration of your current digital strategy. Engage this partner to listen to what you need, audit how things are currently working, review the data, and help you take stock of your digital challenges and opportunities.

Diagnosis

After robust discovery, it’s time for a careful diagnosis. Conditions can be complex and nuanced, so the right diagnosis takes time. Everyone on your team needs to agree on the problem, because everyone must be invested, collectively, in solving it. If the firm supporting you in this process is applying their expertise and their creative intelligence to the process, they will be able to help you connect the dots between causes, symptoms, and the challenges to solve.

Design

With respect to our doctor visit analogy, once you feel good that you and your care team have properly diagnosed your health problem, it’s time to design your treatment plan. The same applies to your business. Once your challenges are diagnosed, your partnering firm or agency will need to provide you with a high-level understanding of the proposed solutions. You’ll also need to know what the solution is worth to you and your organization, not just in potential revenue but in errors prevented, time saved, or opportunities created. And you need to have a clear understanding of how the partner will be able to add value.

Just as you wouldn’t select your medical specialists without knowing what is wrong and how to treat it, it is only after the discovery-diagnosis-design process is complete that you can make an informed decision about your partnership. How will the agency address the problem? What empirical intelligence and expertise will they bring to your team and your organization? How do they plan to work with you to overcome the obstacles? And, what will these solutions cost you?

 

When all is said and done, you want a partner who will act as your guide and add value to your work. They will use data and intelligence to articulate problems and bring solutions to the table. And, ideally, they will also identify early in the discovery-diagnosis-design process if they are the right fit for the task at hand, or whether additional “specialists” may be required along the way. If they do become your agency of record as a result of this process, then you’ll enjoy the added benefits of earned trust, an established common language, and a completed trial run of the collaboration.

We believe due diligence is a necessary part of the selection process. Before you put your trust in a partner, put your trust in the process.

 

Key Takeaways:

  • If you are seeking a partner to support your digital efforts, you need a process that is not simply focused on personalities or price—although those are factors—but on discovery, diagnosis, and design.
  • Before you can begin solving problems, you first need to understand what they are. Engaging a third party—ideally the agency you hope to enlist over the long term—can help you conduct a thorough exploration of your current digital strategy.
  • After robust discovery, it’s time for a careful diagnosis. If the agency supporting you in this process is applying their expertise and their creative intelligence to the process, they will be able to help you connect the dots between causes, symptoms, and the challenges to solve.
  • Once your challenges are diagnosed, your partnering agency will need to provide you with a high-level understanding of the proposed solutions. You need to have a clear understanding of how the agency will be able to add value.
  • Just as you wouldn’t select your medical specialists without knowing what is wrong and how to treat it, it is only after the discovery-diagnosis-design process is complete that you can make an informed decision about your partnership.