There’s a fear mentality about intellectual property from most professional services organisations. Why do the words “My IP” make me shudder inside? I think it’s because people trying to protect anything and everything are ruled by fear, and not sharing information goes against what I feel is right. Of course, I understand the legal implications and know there are other valid reasons for protecting your ‘IP’, however at BRS, we’re firm believers in educating our clients and with that we give a lot away.
Our delivery is focused on two key things; building trust and exceeding expectations. When our clients, or even prospective clients call us with a question or an issue, we love being able to provide great resources that they will put to use. We’ll point them in the direction of a blog on the topic and email them through tools, templates and guides to assist them. Just recently a client was having challenges running effective meetings. After listening to their concerns, we provided a meeting pack, an effective meeting agenda template and some training tips on how to chair meetings. And we won’t even send them a bill, because our knowledge bank is built for them!
Here’s a few other ways we give it all away…
On the BRS website we have a ‘Knowledge’ page complete with templates, tools, presentations and papers that are there for anyone to utilise. As a team we all contribute to the blog and aim to provide our network access to as many relevant and practical tips and ideas as possible. Our view is that giving information and tools away is a great way to build strong relationships with clients and exceed their expectations.
Social media is also a great way to expand your reach. After enjoying our time in the blogging world and LinkedIn we recently made a foray into twitter. When it came down to why we did it – it wasn’t to keep up to date on the progress our clients or find out what was happening in the industry (although of course they are some indirect benefits!) it was a way for us to hunt more knowledge and share it. Contrary to popular belief, twitter isn’t filled with people talking about what they ate for lunch or that they are having a good day – it’s an instant news source direct from the client or media. This news and information is valuable to our clients which makes it valuable to us.
We also host monthly breakfasts with rotating topics and a big invite list. Anyone can sign up to receive invitations, rsvp to the breakfast of their choice, attend and take away ideas, tools and knowledge. They are an interactive space where questions, alternative ideas and healthy debate is all welcome. The cost? Free to attendees, but they need to get up early in order to get their croissant. After the breakfast, we’ll send them a copy of the presentation and anything else that might prove beneficial.
This sharing mentality extends within our team. We know that our people are our biggest asset, and spending time investing in extending each other’s knowledge is time well spent. We hold lunch and learn’s, spend time coaching each other, bounce ideas off each other and hand over ideas and prospects for someone else to run with it. No one is precious about anything they’ve created, or determined to protect their role by holding back trade secrets of how a particular client or service line works. It’s worth noting that this isn’t merely a top down approach – it happens peer-to-peer (often without the MD present!).
So why do we do it? Surely we should be guarding this information, or charging for it. When I started at BRS, I have to admit to being a little shocked with the approach, but I quickly came around. It adds value to our clients, constantly challenges us and makes us aware of our own capabilities through sharing the information. We’ve talked about him before in previous blogs but Patrick Lencioni’s book “Getting Naked” is a semi-bible for us here at BRS in our approach to our clients. We’re confident enough in our capability, our people and our “IP” that we’re happy to help people out, knowing that when the time comes and they need assistance that aligns with our services, we’ll be the first person they call. And if they don’t? That’s ok. They might call us next time or refer us on to someone who will benefit from what BRS offers to the market. This is where abundance is alive and well in understanding that by helping others, they help us.