I had to cut ties with one of my favorite clients tonight. It wasn’t done without a lot of thought and deliberation, and without going into the gory details on the ins and outs that contributed to my decision, let me just say a few words on the topic of communication.

I did a show on The Brushfires last week, and the topic that really got Jack and I going was this on communication in project management. In the conversation, I predicted the demise of this particular project, and it appears that my projections have come true.

I was hired to consult on and engineer for a particularly complicated video podcast show. The man had a built in audience with him, and all he had to do to make it a successful show would be to show up, and produce quality content. Consistently, he’d show up to the show a couple hours before it started with a basket full of edit jobs to do, and no show preparation. Those of us on the team begged him to listen, and attempted multiple times to schedule coaching sessions to improve his game a bit, but he could never seem to fit us into his busy schedule.

Furthermore, I was designated to wear the hat of chief rain-maker, in that I was to come up with advertising business model, make daily changes to the web site, and of course engineer all podcasts.

The problem, of course, being that he was either unwilling to make the time to communicate with me. All it would take would be responses to email correspondence in order to ensure the marching orders I understood were the ones he had in fact issued… just a quick five minute call for me to give him a status update, and for him to confirm that was the direction I needed to be going in.

As it turns out, relationships soured because when he told me what he wanted in a (and I quote here) ‘web button’ actually was a video thumbnail. So when I finally had all the videos converted, back end code written, reward models formulated and the forms formatted, and I showed it to him after two weeks of work, he became rather upset that I didn’t just create the thumbnails two weeks ago, and why did it take me two weeks to make some thumbnails?

I’m sure you’ve probably guessed which client it is at this point, if you’ve been following my work online. Bottom line is that the relationship has now soured to the point where he hasn’t returned my phone calls or emails in over a week in some sort of odd passive-aggressive revenge for the ‘button incident.’ Now what potentially could have been a show worth thousands a week in income is now a very expensive mistake for all involved, including myself, as I was working partially on spec.

I must take some of the blame, however. In the future, I’m going to be a lot more careful to exact a great deal more communication (or alternatively, up-front in-full payment) from my clients, especially where speculative deals are involved. There’s nothing more annoying and disheartening to realize you’ve wasted a lot of good days on a project when it collapses through no fault of your own.

/mark

Want to be part of the Rizzn-ite army? Indoctrination instructions here.