Strategy is more important than solutions. To our clients, the solution to their infrastructure problems is not as important as the journey they take with you to that solution. Assuming that the infrastructure solution is fairly equal among all competitors, then the journey to that solution is what matters to the client. Every engineering project is a journey and the engineer who makes the client’s journey the easiest and most rewarding will win more work and more loyalty.
So what differentiates one engineer from another? The solutions are relatively the same. Differentiators are the characteristics of the journey. These include speed, ease, cooperative problem-solving, creative funding, communication, responsiveness, regulatory compliance, innovative delivery, contractor cooperation, and budget. On these attributes of the journey, the client’s experience from one engineer to another can be dramatically different.
While every good engineer should be focused on the technical solution, remember you are hired based on the perceived journey of your client. What could you be doing differently to make their journey easier and more rewarding?
As a design consultant, you are frequently interacting with high-level relationships in your client’s organization. For example, you may find that you are interacting with a City Manager, Utility General Manager, Attorney, or similar high-level leader. These leaders have high demands on their time and attention. They are typically swamped with requests and other consultants vying for their attention.
Like any good relationship, trust is the bedrock of a valuable relationship. In business, trust means you are not wasting the leader’s time. It means you are authentic and exercise wisdom. Here are a few tips for maintaining valuable interactions with high-level relationships and building trust.
These are very simple tips for maintaining a successful and trustworthy high-level relationship. These can also be followed when trying to establish a new relationship with a high-level leader. Good business development practice dictates that rather than starting a relationship by asking for something, especially their time, offer something you know is valuable. Send an industry article, introduce them to another expert you know they need, be brief and direct in your communications.
A prepositional idiom is a phrase that can be condensed to one word or eliminated from the sentence. One of the most common problems in poor writing is prepositional idioms. The best way to define this writing issue is to give some examples. The following examples are common prepositional idioms I see in writing project descriptions, approaches, cover letters, etc.
Prepositional Idioms That Begin with a Preposition
In order to, In a timely manner, From day to day, Above all else, For this purposeLook for prepositional idioms like these and replace them with one word or delete them. For example, you can change the following sentence, “We will consider safety in design concepts above all else,” to “We will consider safety in design concepts first.”
One of the most common prepositional idioms I discover has to do with identifying that we are discussing the project. We often use idioms such as for the project, of the project, throughout the project, for this project. Most of the time, these can be eliminated. Consider the following examples.
Example for Condensing a Prepositional Idiom
“Our quality control and assurance measures are executed at every step throughout the project.”
“Our quality control and assurance measures are executed at every milestone.”
Example for Eliminating a Prepositional Idiom“After our scoping meeting, the design team will draft a final scope of work for the project.”
“After our scoping meeting, the design team will draft a final scope of work.”
The reader already knows you are discussing their project. There is no need to qualify your action as being “of the project” or “for the project” when the entire document is already discussing their project.
Watch for prepositional idioms in your writing and challenge yourself to condense or eliminate them for better writing.
Gabe Lett, FSMPS, CPSM, LPC