Thought this was an interesting analogy.
A colleague refers to some customers as snowflakes.
At first, I didn’t get it.
Then I understood.
Every snowflake is unique.
Based on how the ice crystals fall to the ground through different temperatures, moisture levels, and atmospheric pressures, the shape of every snowflake is different.
Sometimes when it comes to project management, customers too think they are unique, different, and special.
They think that solutions that work industry- or enterprise-wide could never work for them and their wholly distinct ways of doing business.
Hence, as I learned, the term snowflake.
For those of us who have been around the project management block a few times, we know that while there are specific customer requirements, most of them are not all that unique.
And when some customers simply don’t want to do things differently than they’ve done it before, there can be greater resistance to change.
Hence, the “We’re special. We’re different” reframe along with the standoffishness, doubting, circling the wagons, throwing up obstacles, or just refusing to fully participate.
Obviously, it’s a lot more difficult to modernize and transform through technology and business process re-engineering when your customers aren’t on board.
So it is critical to manage organizational change, address the questions, the fears, and elements that are truly unique, and bring the people along as true partners.
Not every requirement is a snowflake and neither is every customer, but we have to manage the similarities and differences in every project and make sure it improves performance and meets the needs of the customer and the organization. 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)