research design laboratory


For the entire month of January, Archinodes is having a sale on our consulting services: mention this blog post and receive a free idea with the purchase of any two ideas. This includes all good ideas, great ideas, and excellent ideas, but does not apply to our inventory of paradigm shifting ideas.  And as always, be sure check out our clearance rack where all of our okay ideas are up to 70% off.

Alright, I know, that's a bit preposterous.

Consulting is funny business. In fact, consulting has become a bit of dirty word around Archinodes. One my favourite pastimes is spitballing ideas. The process of problem solving can be fun and exciting. Whether working with a client or just chatting over beers with a friend, there's nothing I enjoy more than working through a challenge and identifying creative solutions. And the process of freely sharing these ideas is always more fulfilling - getting a reaction to your idea, having your idea challenged, refining your idea - it seems the more an idea gets shared, the better it gets.

But therein lies the challenge of getting paid for your ideas.

Obviously, the concept of purchasing ideas in the same way one purchases a pair of shoes is ridiculous, but our ideas are central to the work we do. This challenge often rears its head during the proposal process when we first engage a potential client. Very few clients are willing to pay for a proposal and we often find ourselves reticent to give away our best ideas early on. All too often we've seen ideas taken from our proposals, repurposed, and then given to the lowest bidder to be implemented. We take pride in our proposals, but in creating them we're often risking a lot of unpaid work. This creates a tension between wanting to freely share our best ideas while holding our cards close to the vest to protect ourselves.

But to me, this illustrates a central principle of consulting: establishing trust. I don't see consulting as the business of selling ideas; when we're hired as consultants, we're getting paid to seek the best interest of our clients, regardless of how many good or bad ideas that will require. And it's out of that trusting relationship that the best ideas come.

So, here's a pro tip for anyone soliciting proposals for any kind of work: offer to compensate your prospective vendors for their time in putting together the proposal. Even if it's a nominal amount that doesn't match the labour involved, the gesture alone will speak volumes about your respect for their work, an essential level of trust will be established, and I guarantee you'll end up getting better proposals and better ideas.