business development and alliance management

The Listening Platform: How it works

The Listening Platform: How it works

The Listening Platform allows teams to foster authentic, ongoing relationships with the people they need to connect with in less time and with less effort. The Platform offers immediate feedback about important decisions that is relevant, contextualised, highly targeted and in near real-time. The Platform consists of a number of discrete phases.

Identifying and framing the initial question, issue or problem

The questions or issues addressed can be pre-planned or reactive, open or specific. At the outset of the relationship we sit down with clients and plan a set of question, issue or problem-based conversations that will be initiated over the period of the contract.

The pre-planned questions are often based on the key questions used in traditional business development and alliance management surveys. They may, for example, cover issues like:

So for example, we might agree with the client a set of twenty open questions that can be rolled out on a regular basis to key stakeholder groups. Those questions might include questions such as:

“What could we do better in managing the collaboration?”

“Is the collaboration a success?”

“Has the collaboration matched your expectations at the outset of the partnership?”

“Is our communication with you timely and effective?”

“What could we do to make our team more effective in the partnership?”

On the other hand, questions can be rolled out to react to specific events. For example, for partners which have recently gone through the search, evaluation and negotiation processes, questions might be:

“How did we handle the evaluation process?”

“Do you have any comments about how we handled the negotiation process?”

For new partnerships the question could be:

“Compared to other large companies in the sector, did we execute the onboarding process effectively?”

For recently terminated collaborations the question might be:

“Was there any way in which we could have managed the collaboration more effectively?”

Initiating the fact-finding with a path-finding survey

We have significant expertise in running online surveys for our clients. Our platform can be effectively linked with an initial survey to identify issues and concerns that can then be focused on in the follow-up conversations.

The Situation-Behaviour-Impact (SBI) model maximises the value of the feedback from participants

The Platform uses the SBI model Developed by the Center for Creative Leadership and now used by leading organisations across the world. The SBI framework has recently been analysed in an article in the Harvard Business Review. According to the article the SBI model allows teams to "address both strengths and weaknesses in a clear, specific, professional and caring way". The SBI model is designed to identify issues that you can do something about:

Situation Have there been specific situations where the client's performance has been sub-optimal or well above the performance of competitors? When did it occur? Where did it occur?

Behaviour What exactly happened and how did the client's team or organisation act or fail to act that was below or above expectations?

Impact What was the impact of this situation and behaviour on the participant's team or organisation?

When we structure feedback in this way, your people will understand precisely what is being commented on, and why. And when we outline the impact of their behaviour on others, we're giving them the chance to reflect on their actions, and think about what they may need to change. The tool also helps you avoid making assumptions that could upset the other people or team and damage your relationship with them.

Guaranteed confidentiality and anonymity

One of the key advantages of using our platform to listen to your external partners is that we guarantee both confidentiality and anonymity if the participant prefers those options. In our experience those partners offering the most insightful feedback and that with the most learning opportunities are far more likely to ask for confidentiality and anonymity than other participants just in case their remarks impact their relationship with the client.

Deciding who is involved in the conversation

For each question, issue or problem we decide with the client who should be included in the conversation. This depends on the question, issue or problem being asked and the teams on the other side of the conversation, but it is likely to include anybody who may have something interesting to say about the question.

Initiating the conversation

At the outset of the conversion we ask each person included in the conversation to nominate their preferred method of contact. Some may prefer to use social media such as WhatsApp, Twitter or LinkedIn rather than traditional email. Others may prefer to use text messaging or one-on-one conversations over the telephone. This method is used throughout the series of conversations with that person.

Building on the initial responses depending on the responses with follow-up questions

The initial question is designed to elicit a range of responses. We collate those responses and, where necessary, we have a conversation with the client about the best approach to build on those responses with follow up questions. So, for example, responses to the question:

“How did we handle the evaluation process?”

may elicit responses from “Really well” through to “Very poorly”. The follow up questions will then be framed to drill-down into the aspects of that process that the respondent thought that the client has done well and where the respondent felt that the client’s team performed less well.

Likewise, responses to the question:

“Is our communication with you timely and effective?”

will range from negative through to positive. Respondents who give negative feedback will be encouraged to take part in a deeper conversation about their issues with the client’ communication and the steps that the client could take to address those issues.

These follow up questions will generate more feedback to be interpreted. Thus, some respondents who rated the evaluation process poorly may have issues with the speed of decision-making, others may have issues with the amount of feedback given to them at the end of the evaluation process.

Synthesis of the feedback into a report for the client

Once the conversations have been completed we synthesise the points raised during each conversation in a set of talking points and lessons which the client can use to schedule follow-up calls or implement process improvements if needed. The talking points will be delivered in a set of slides and a telephone, video or in person briefing.

Building deep profiles of key people and teams

As the participants respond to individual questions over weeks and months the client will build up a detailed profile of their attitude and, their opinions. As a person’s or a team’s profile deepens and as events occur you will generate specific context-rich additional data to help you understand why the person has acted in the way that they have and how they are likely to respond to future developments.