Regardless of where in the world you are working or who you are working with, developing a comprehensive understanding of the clients, organizations, manufactures, businesses, and industry leaders that you work with is key to your professional success.
In the “Self Assessment 1” assignment you completed, you considered how culture impacts your perspectives, expectations, interpretations, and world views. In this assignment, you will conduct research about your assigned client to develop a comprehensive understanding of your client, including their background, interests, goals, professional and corporate culture, and, as applicable, their philanthropy.
Businesses are often conceptualized as one-dimensional entities who operate based on the single goal of making as much money as possible. While ensuring that a business is profitable is obviously necessary, businesses, like the people who run them, have varied interests and perspectives, as well as different beliefs about what is valuable or what expenses are worthwhile. For example, through their Innovative Learning program, Verizon (Links to an external site.) has recently begun working with Title 1 schools to integrate technology throughout the schools and disseminate devices to the students. Additionally, they are building high tech STEM labs in middle schools (and are soon expanding to high schools), and have worked with ASU to help develop appropriate STEM curricula and implement teacher training. In addition to accessibility and education, Verizon also has sustainability goals (Links to an external site.), goals for human prosperity (see their Reskilling and Upskilling (Links to an external site.) and Employee Volunteers (Links to an external site.) pages), and offers a variety of grants (Links to an external site.).
Similarly, your prospective clients understand themselves as fitting in with and being part of the communities they exist in in some way. As a professional, you must develop a comprehensive understanding of your clients’ values, perspectives, and needs in order to develop solutions that help them achieve their goals.
To develop a comprehensive understanding of your client, including:
Your client’s history
Your client’s values
Your client’s goals
Your client’s needs
Your client’s goals and objectives
Your client’s cultural perspective
Your client’s identity, including:
how they describe their organizational identity
how they are perceived within the community
how their actions/policies/etc. support their projected and perceived identities
How your client is embedded in their community, including:
how they understand their role within the larger community
how community members understand their role within the larger community
how your client actually functions as part of the larger community, as evidenced by past, current, and future projects, etc.
As well as to develop audience centered communication competencies, including:
- Audience appropriate openings and closings in emails
- Clear, complete, and targeted messages
- Understanding what the specific audience you are addressing needs or wants from you
- Thinking about your message from the perspective of your specific audience
- Organizing information and/or messages so it is easy for your specific audience to follow and understand your message
- Using standard formatting to make your message clear, organized, easy to read, and professional in appearance
Through the analysis of an assigned client, this assignment develops a foundation for achieving the following GenEd Human and Cultural Diversity assessment objective:
- SLO1: Demonstrate the ability to see issues from the perspective(s) of other groups/cultures by describing the values and communication styles found in groups different from one’s own and the way in which those differences can affect styles of verbal and nonverbal communication.
- Satisfactory: 1) Student demonstrates adequate understanding of the complexity of elements important to members of another group/culture. 2) Student recognizes and participates in cultural differences in communication and begins to negotiate a shared understanding based on those differences
- Exceeds Expectations: 1) Student demonstrates sophisticated understanding of the complexity of elements important to members of another culture. 2) Student articulates a deep understanding of group/cultural differences and is able to skillfully negotiate a shared understanding based on those differences.
- Assignment Overview and Prompt
For this assignment, you will respond to a prompt, which is presented as an email from your project manager, Maya Harris. As such, you will respond to the prompt as though you are responding to an email.
- Because you are responding to an email from your project manager Maya Harris, it is important that you write your response as though you are actually responding to your project manager.
- Client Acquisition
Maya Harris <email@example.com>
Tuesday, 6/8/2021 8:13 AM
To: You <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I hope you had a restful weekend and got a chance to enjoy the beautiful weather.
- As I explained in the project review meeting last week, I want to acquire [your assigned client’s name]. As you know I’m interested in pursuing some new sustainability projects, and [your assigned client’s name] has expressed interest in moving in that direction. But we’ll need to come up with something innovative and inspiring to get their attention.
- To get us started, each of the members of your team are going to do research and analysis on this client to figure out where they’re coming from, where they want to be, and where they see themselves in the future. Then, we will show them that we can help them achieve their vision of the future.
- Get me a report on [your assigned client’s name] by next week. I want to know them by the time I’m done reading, and I want you living and breathing them by the time you’re done with your report.
- I also want you to look into some of the sustainability accomplishments of similar entities, both domestic and abroad. This is going to help inspire us as we think through what we can do for our target client, and it will also help our target client get a look at the bigger picture. In your report, include 1) a domestic example of an entity that is very similar to our target client (same field obviously, but also similar in size, scope, issues they’re facing, etc.) who has completed or has nearly completed one or more significant sustainability projects, and 2) an international example of a similar entity (again, same field, as well as similar size, scope, etc.) who has completed or has nearly completed one or more significant sustainability projects. For both the domestic and international comparisons, make sure you include a brief background, quick comparison to our target client, and a few bullet points describing each sustainability project, costs, goals, and any reported impacts. This part of the report needs to really demonstrate the global reach of the kind of sustainability-based project we are seeking to develop.
- I’m putting everyone on this individually because all of you need to know this client inside and out, and some of you will find things that others might miss. Plus, some of you will be more thorough than others and I want to know who those people are.
- Looking forward to your reports.
Things to Consider
Audience Centered Communication
Because the primary audience for your report is your project manager, Maya Harris, you must consider her expectations, preferences, communication style, requests, and perspective as you complete your report. Below are some things that you know about your boss:
- What you know about Maya Harris:
The youngest of 4 children, Maya Harris lived in New Zealand until she was 15. At 15, her parents (from Ghana and Norway), both doctors who worked with Doctors Without Borders, accepted teaching positions at Stanford University in California.
- Maya holds a BS in Chemistry and Soil Science (California Polytechnic State University), and a MA and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering (UC Berkeley).
Maya Harris has worked for: The DOD; Caltrans; General Motors; and Equipoise Corporation.
- As a project manager, Maya Harris concurrently oversees 1-7 projects at a time, depending on project scope and client profile. The firm entrusts Harris with many of its most important projects.
Harris boasts a portfolio full of large, high profile projects and highly sought after clients. She is well known for her organization, thoroughness, creative thinking, and leadership.
She expects high quality, innovative, thoughtful, and thorough work from her teams.
She is always on the lookout for excellent team members, and has a knack for building symbiotic teams, improving her teams’ and firm’s competitive edge and rates of success.
Harris expects team members to be resourceful, reliable, and collaborative.
Getting Answers to Your Questions
In professional instances like this, your superiors are likely to assume that you have knowledge that you may not actually have. For example, what information is she expecting in the report? How should it be formatted? What citation style should you use? Often times, co-workers or office administrators are great resources for answers to these kinds of questions, and many companies have specific format guidelines for various document types. But sometimes you’ll need to use your best judgement, and you must always take your specific audience into account to make your work shine.
In this case, we will assume that you’re new to the company, and aren’t really sure what to do. Thankfully, you have a friend who works for the same company, so you ask them for guidance. This is what they tell you:
Citation Style: The firm you work for, Engineering Solutions, uses IEEE citation style (Links to an external site.) (as you suspected!)
Cite. Your. Sources. Even though you are expected to use your own words in this report, you must provide in-text citations for your information sources. All of your future bosses, clients, etc. don’t just want to know that you’ve done your research, they want to know where you got your information, and in many cases they’ll want to take a closer look at the information you have shared with them. So tell them where you got your information and data throughout the entire report.
In addition to including all of your references at the end, you must provide in-text citations throughout your report. Yes, you’re using your own words, but the main point of citing sources is to show where you got your information and ideas.
What to Include: Client research reports must always include:
Background and history of your potential client
In addition to providing valuable information for your company, your team must demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of your potential client that shows the client that you are invested in them, not just the money you’ll make if you win the bid. Review the sample proposal provided to you to see what this looks like in practice.
Information about the specific area where you plan to implement your project idea, including a history of the area, relevant population and demographic information, and information about the physical attributes of the area
Your project location will most likely be in the Tampa or Saint Petersburg area (although you are not limited to these areas). Your Project Location Information section will include a history of the area as well as demographic information about the population, and the physical attributes of the area, including information about elevation, soil and drainage, flood information, weather patters, days of sun, etc.
Client values and/or goals, as publicly stated via mission statements/”About” info on websites, as well as via any relevant news articles
Instances of the client taking actions or implementing policies that support their value claims, such as a company who claims to have/support strong family values who also offers 12 months paid maternity leave to employees
List of 3-4 recently completed, current/ongoing, and planned projects with a 3-5 sentence summary about each project, listed in descending order of recency
However, different project managers will want some additional info, too, and Maya Harris is well known for her thoroughness, organization, and planning. This means you’ll need to include the additional information that she specifically requested in her email.
Document Formatting: Concerning report formatting…. well, when your friend started explaining it to you your eyes glazed over, so they emailed you this empty shell document Download this empty shell documentthat has the general format they usually use laid out for you. Your friend even included some general directions for what you must include in each section!
But remember, you’ll need to add headings and subheadings for the additional information that your boss asked for in her email.
You can also change the style as you see fit, create a different cover page, etc.
Content Expectations: As a competent engineer, employee, and team member, you are expected provide a clear, well organized, and thoughtful report of your research. In other words, you are expected to conduct research about your client and, in your own words, summarize your research for your boss via this report.
It is extremely unlikely that you will ever be asked to generate a report with the expectation that you’ll copy and paste the results of your Google search into a document, stamp your name on it, and call it a report. That kind of careless and lazy “work” is likely to be poorly received, and could be grounds for reprimand or even termination, depending on factors such as plagiarism.
You are expected to keep direct quotes to a minimum. Only use direct quotes when necessary, or if you are including the specific wording of a policy, slogan, goal, etc. and it is important to keep the exact wording used by the source.
*QUESTION PENALTY OVERVIEW*
This assignment has two overarching purposes:
to develop a comprehensive understanding of your client
and to develop audience centered communication competency.
As such, you are expected to carefully and thoughtfully consider all aspects of this assignment based on your understanding of your boss’s perspective and expectations (your boss is Maya Harris).
In order to aid your independent thought and communication competency development, teams’ average score totals (the total that will be shown on the score board, not your individual grades) will be issued a 5 point deduction for every instance where more than one question is asked per team, more than one team member asks a question, or a question is asked that is answered/addressed/linked in the assignment description/assignment document, or that can be answered fairly easily via internet research or group discussion. Therefore, it would be wise to discuss your questions and thoughts with your team members first, to only ask a question that is deemed very important by the entire team and unanswerable via internet research or discussion, and to specifically assign one person to ask the question on behalf of the entire team.