Rant – Door #1 or Door #2?

There is a moment in every engagement where you have to make the choice between making the client happy or making them successful. There is always something (and usually many many things) that they want to do, that will lead them down a very dangerous path. Those same things are almost always their babies, tied to things like personalization, or improving metrics that make them look good, or a hundred other things.

When that moment comes, it is amazing how often people choose the “make them happy” path. Most do it by not acknowledging the issues, other make excuses to themselves that they will deal with it later, or that the client was going to do it anyways. Most make sure they are in a state of plausible deniability by not knowing what the value of things are or by believing the so called “experts” of their field, most of which know less then a low level analyst, but who focus on telling people what they want to hear and by being good speakers (There is no correlation between being a great speaker and having great ideas”.

One of my favorite managers used to have a saying. Whenever you didn’t do what you were supposed to, he would ask you “door #1 or door #2?”. This was a reference to lets make a deal, where door #3 is the prize (you did the right thing), and behind the other two doors, you got the donkey. In this case, Door #1 refers to the fact that you are incompetent – You tried but weren’t up to the job. Door #2 refers to you giving me the middle finger. You could have tried more, or could have done more, but you chose not to.

When you make that choice, when you choose to improve your relationship, or you choose to make them happy, over making them successful, which door is it? What is so important that you can’t do the right thing. It isn’t easy, and the truth is that in most cases, the client won’t ever know that they aren’t getting anywhere near the value they should. But you SHOULD know, and not knowing, that is door #2. If you do know, and you try, and fail, then it is door #1. The choice to not fight the battles that are worth fighting, or to promote yourself over doing the right thing, that says more about you then any engagement or any situation.

So which is it?

Door #1 or Door #2?

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