Do you ever suffer from “client block”?

As I’d characterize it, client block is a subset of creative block when you are specifically challenged making progress on a project for a particular client. That client may be an external or internal one to your organization. The point is something is getting in the way of delivering what you are on the hook for as the project outcome for a specific client, rather than an overall creative block.

Why Client Block Happens

Considering times I’ve suffered client block, it has happened because a client:

  • Has a world view that doesn’t have a lot of regard for the project’s focus
  • Doesn’t have a willingness to absorb much information
  • Isn’t open to accepting their view of reality isn’t borne out by facts
  • Isn’t interested in what they really need to know or understand
  • Knows what they DON’T want but can’t articulate what they DO want
  • Refuses to productively engage in shaping what the project deliverable they want contains and/or looks like

The result of these client block situations may be something that feels like creative block where you are unable to get started on a project. It could also simply be a lack of interest or motivation in determining how to address the specific issue a client could have with the project outcome.

Solutions to Client Block

Considering the issue the other day with someone while talking about creative block, we brainstormed a variety of approaches to combat client block. Some potential ideas to combat client bock include:

  • Creating a strategic outline that’s a mix of what the client wants and what you think should be delivered and working to get buy off on it from the client.
  • Moving ahead with what you believe is the right direction, realizing you’ll have to sell in your approach much harder.
  • Being an “order taker” and resolving to deliver whatever the client wants, whether you think it’s the right thing or not.
  • Using a previous project deliverable similar to what you need as a template or roadmap.
  • Not starting at the beginning of the deliverable but starting where you can most easily get started to fuel yourself with an early sense of accomplishment.
  • Determining the easiest way for you to create the deliverable and start using that direction, even if you modify and adapt it later.
  • Pulling someone into the project who can challenge your thinking and help identify a place to get started.
  • If you’re able, delegating or outsourcing the deliverable to someone who has a better sense of how to start and complete it.

What do you do to combat client block?

These eight ideas are a start at addressing client block. Have you tried any of them to deal with client block successfully or unsuccessfully? Are there other ways you’ve been able to work around a client block?

We (and be “we,” I mean “I”) would love to learn your solutions and give them a try! - Mike Brown


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