In fast-evolving sectors, such as today's digital world, principles are not always equally sacred, and boundaries are at risk of being blurred. ODUM.digital, a network of independent digital challengers, is well aware of this and therefore wants to strongly protect its label guaranteeing quality and trust, which sets it apart on the market. The entrepreneurs who have joined the network give high priority to the value of professional ethics. This document lays down the principles of those professional ethics. It is mainly aimed at all independent digital challengers who carry out assignments on behalf of ODUM.digital as subcontractors, and therefore profile themselves using our company name. Moreover, it is aimed at clients, to give them an insight into what sets the independent digital challengers of ODUM.digital apart from other players.
A1. As an ODUM.digital advisor, you always recommend what is best for the clientnot what would benefit ODUM.digital or another market party. You recommend strategies, solutions, technologies and implementation partners which you and the other advisors in the ODUM.digital network have thoroughly analysed and which you feel, to the best of your knowledge, to be the best match for your client. When giving advice, you never put your personal interests first.
A2. You always present more than one option
In je advies beperk je je nooit tot het adviseren van één technologie of leverancier.
You always start off with a minimum of two options, which you compare from an independent and objective point of view, and based on your best judgement. You then formulate your advice based on these options and the client’s specific situation. To do so, you rely on a mix of factual and well-substantiated elements, which you combine with your gut instinct.
A3. You refuse assignments with a (potential) conflict of interest
As a coach, you may be faced with a potential client while working for one of their direct competitors, or while coaching one of their suppliers or even while being a member of their Advisory Board. Needless to say, this constitutes a conflict of interest. The same goes if you are a co-owner or shareholder of a company the potential client works with. In case of such conflicts of interest, it is your duty to inform the client and to assess whether another ODUM.digital challenger can take on the assignment.
A4. You acknowledge and highlight that ODUM.digital is 100% independent in terms of technology
You resolutely say "no" to commissions/margins/fees, or any other benefits offered by specific technologies or implementation partners. Under no circumstances do you act as a reseller of software or hardware. Likewise, you do not participate in the selection of technologies or suppliers if there is a conflict of interest of any sort.
A5. You never make contractual agreements on behalf of the client
You do not make or insinuate any legal or binding agreements/promises/contracts on behalf of the client, neither in writing nor orally. As a digital coach, you regularly come into contact with (potential) suppliers of the client; you advise the client, but it is always the client who makes the final decision and signs any contractual agreements with suppliers, clients or partners.
A6. You never combine the role of external CIO/long-term coach with membership of the Advisory Board
Clients have the option of asking you, as a digital challenger, to become a member of the Advisory Board. That requires you to attend a meeting with the owners of the company and the other members of the Advisory Board several times a year. According to the principles of ODUM.digital, a long-term assignment as a digital coach/CIO at a company may never be combined with membership of the Advisory Board, because this could result in conflicts. After all, the members of the Advisory Board should be able to freely share their opinions and advice on the business operations, including the staff, subcontractors and consultants.
What is allowed?
A7. You may never be the only external party in an Advisory Board
A healthy Advisory Board is made up of the owner(s) and at least two - but preferably three - external advisors. A best practice is that each advisor has a personal focus, e.g. finance, digital and sales/marketing.
A8. You may not remain a member of an Advisory Board for longer than a few years
A healthy principle is for external advisors in an Advisory Board to be replaced every now and then, as this gives rise to new insights and perspectives. As an ODUM.digital challenger you may not be a member of one and the same external Advisory Board for longer than three to four years. However, in consultation with the client, you may advise that another challenger from the ODUM.digital network take over your role.
A9. You may never mention the names of your clients on public profiles, such as LinkedIn
This is required from the perspective of a discretion and confidentiality obligation. In addition to this, as a digital challenger it is important that you can have conversations with technology players and implementation partners, as well as with our clients’ competitors, without them knowing which clients we work with. Not mentioning any client names on public profiles means that all doors remain closed, allowing you to gather more objective information.
B1. You are not afraid to say “no”
As a digital challenger, you advise your client based on your expertise and external perspective. In doing so, it is important that you respect the values, methodology and code of ethics of ODUM.digital. If you feel the client’s expectations are not in line with these values, methodology and code, you should resolutely say “no” to the assignment and kindly explain why. Opt for assignments where you can really make the difference and where you can deliver quality. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to assignments that are not a perfect match.
B2. Always go for a broad, strategic approach
In order to give clients the professional advice they expect from an ODUM.digital advisor, you should always ensure that you have a good insight into the context and the situation. Rather than quickly suggesting a solution, you should get a good grasp of the client’s needs, e.g. via interviews and workshops. This will allow you to fully understand their business, architecture, challenges and risks. You should also focus on the corporate culture and the human aspect before giving advice
During a first meeting, you can inspire your client with market examples and trends, but you should not formulate concrete advice. If the client insists you rush into giving advice, it is your duty to inform the client that ODUM.digital does not accept these kinds of assignments. ODUM.digital only takes on change processes where we can truly have an impact on the total transformation, and where we can guarantee quality and success.
An example: a client is looking for a consultant to work a few hours/days a week, giving advice on tool choices. The scope should be limited to “internal efficiency”, not really customer experience and the business model, which lie at a higher level. Once the client has been advised on the best tools to use, they want to personally contact the supplier, without involving ODUM.digital as a sounding board in the implementation phase. This is a type of assignment ODUM.digital resolutely says “no” to, because experience shows us that our impact is too small in such cases.
B3. You ensure the commitment of the manager and director
The digital and business transformations that ODUM.digital assists in often have a major impact on the company in question, as well as on its strategy, customers, suppliers and subcontractors. As a digital challenger, it is important that you regularly (at least once every two months) plan a meeting with the CEO/managing director/company owner to discuss the progress. You should take the initiative to discuss this and schedule it (or ask someone to schedule it). If you feel the CEO/managing director/company owner is insufficiently involved, you should inform the ODUM.digital supervisor.
B4. You make a clear distinction between a brainstorming session, an action plan and advice
You should only advise the client after having taken the necessary time to get to the bottom of things and after having spoken to the different stakeholders, which will allow you to get a good insight into the situation and analyse it properly. You should never give any advice based on a brief e-mail, telephone conversation or meeting. These can, however, serve to share past experiences or jointly work out an action plan for the advisory services to be provided later on. See this as a separate brainstorming session, where you present a range of ideas and possible scenarios, without giving the client the idea that a specific idea or scenario could be interpreted as personal advice.
B5. Do not fall into the trap of presenting a solution straight away
Clients often turn to a digital coach when they are already facing serious problems, so they are looking for a solution or advice immediately. Don’t fall into this trap! Don’t be tempted into immediately providing solutions/advice. As an ODUM.digital challenger, you should always have a broad view of the problem: explain to your client that you can only accept the assignment if you can tackle it in a qualitative manner. That means the client should give you the time to get a good insight into the organisation, its processes and people, the current IT environment and the suppliers, requirements, risks and opportunities. Only then can you provide well-substantiated advice.
B6. You always substantiate your advice
The philosophy of ODUM.digital is that you only provide well-substantiated advice. In a written recommendation on the selection of a software product, for example, you should consider the client’s needs, the solutions included in the long list and the reasoning behind their selection, the reasons why some of them were not short-listed, and a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of the short-listed solutions, as well as the reasons why you are giving preference to one specific solution.
B7. You always maintain an external perspective and you do not accept any full-time or long-term assignments
As a digital challenger/coach, one of your main strengths is that you can analyse the situation from an external perspective, without tunnel vision or the biased view of people who are too deeply involved in the situation or who have been working at the company for a long time. Therefore, you should not accept any long-term assignments, and you should recognise that your power has an ‘expiry date’. You should never work for the same client for several years on end.
B8. Let go of projects in a controlled manner
As a digital challenger, you coach the client's staff to set up and successfully complete projects. In the project start-up phase, you are more closely involved to ensure the staff have a clear framework and clear expectations to work with. However, little by little you should let go of the project in a controlled manner. Nevertheless, you should regularly monitor the progress and when necessary, you should zoom in to point out any issues to the project manager or the manager of the company.
B9. You believe in life-long learning and consistently attend courses
You know that as a digital challenger you should always keep up to date, and you therefore dedicate part of your working hours to life-long learning. You follow the trends and innovations in the business/sectors of your client(s), as well as the technological tools and suppliers in these markets. In addition to this, you regularly attend and/or organise workshops and you read blogs/books on methods and best practices to achieve digital innovation in companies. You also keep abreast of the latest developments in business models, people, processes and technologies.
B10. You handle confidential information with care
You never share confidential information of am ODUM.digital client with anyone unless they have signed an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) with the client or ODUM.digital, and/or ODUM.digital or its client have given their explicit prior consent. Don’t be afraid to explicitly ask whether they have signed this document and if you have any doubts, ask them to present proof. Often clients forget to ask their suppliers/subcontractors to sign an NDA. Every ODUM.digital collaboration contract includes a confidentiality clause by default. The same goes for the agreement between ODUM.digital and the independent coaches.
B11. If necessary, rely on external experts
As a digital challenger, you are faced with a lot of questions from clients, some of which may cover a broader area of expertise than the one you are familiar with. If you feel that you lack the necessary insights/expertise to provide the client with well-substantiated advice, don’t hesitate to rely on experts in your network to assist your client in the best way possible.
C1. You always go for a WIN-WIN triangle
The role of a digital challenger is to create a WIN-WIN triangle between the client, the coach and the supplier. The main aims of this approach are:
C2. You build a professional, independent relationship with suppliers
Day in, day out, ODUM.digital challengers and supervisors join forces with suppliers and technology companies, both as part of specific assignments for clients and for market surveys and working groups. It is very important to maintain a solid, professional and independent relationship with these companies and to ensure that they consider ODUM.digital an important party to work with.
C3. You keep highlighting that ODUM.digital is not a competitor of the IT suppliers
As a digital challenger, you do not take the reins. In other words, you do not personally take care of implementation.
You act as a sounding board and enabler, linking your client to the right IT supplier.
C4. You ensure the client is involved in the selection of suppliers
As a digital challenger, you help your client with the selection of technology and IT partners/integrators. To this end, you carry out market research, which may involve discussions with potential clients that do not involve the client directly. Clients tend to say, “go ahead, since I’m not an expert.” It is important for the client to be present when potential suppliers/integrators are approached, particularly in the final selection phase (shortlist/demos/scoring).
C5. You ensure the IT supplier can take ownership of the project
If, in the framework of an assignment for a client, you approach an IT partner, requesting a quote for a custom project at a fixed rate, you should ensure sufficient information sessions, workshops and discussions are held to give the partner the opportunity to get a good insight into the client's situation and needs, and to come up with a well-substantiated proposal. You should stress that ODUM.digital does not adopt the ‘old-fashioned’ tendering processing where several parties are forced to draw up a quote without prior consultation. After all, experience shows that this often results in a strained collaboration with a lot of difficulties for further growth.
C6. You respect the suppliers’ pre-sales timeframes
As an ODUM.digital coach or supervisor, you realise that the suppliers’ time is valuable too. Therefore, you only ask them to submit a quote if they have an actual chance of carrying out the project. You should not string them along.
C7. You personally debrief stakeholders
It is very important that you take your time to debrief suppliers personally when faced with bad news, e.g. when they participated in an RFP and they were not withheld or when a client decides to terminate an agreement or not go ahead with the start-up of a project. You give them concrete feedback for them to learn and grow. Experience shows that they truly appreciate this, which pushes them to enthusiastically work on the requested quote or provide the requested information.
D1. You are convinced that you can help people grow by helping them appreciate what they already have
As an ODUM.digital coach, you never tear people down. You are convinced people have the power to grow by starting from the positive, and based on their personality traits. At the same time, you are not afraid to hold up a mirror to them, giving them an insight into their talents and the traits that are holding them back in their growth and development. You help people get out of their comfort zone, allowing them to work on the areas that develop and shape a better version of themselves.
D2. You are convinced and appreciate that each person is unique
Every person is unique and has personal strengths, also as a member of the ODUM.digital challenger network, where you are allowed to cherish your individuality. You acknowledge that your client’s teams are characterised by that same individuality, which may result in people being unable to work to their full potential. You therefore don’t tear anyone down, but you listen to their ambitions and you try to get a better insight into their strengths.
D3. You don’t let go of your gut instinct; on the contrary, you share what it tells you
As an external coach, you see and feel a lot when dealing with your client. You speak to the management, staff, clients, suppliers, competitors and so on. Sometimes, your gut instinct may tell you something is not quite right. Do listen to this gut instinct, talk about it with your supervisor and don’t be afraid to confront your client’s management about it - in a constructive and respectful way - even if it is a delicate and complex matter. It often indicates there is something that should be discussed or clarified. Your client will be grateful, because not many consultants have the guts to do this.
D4. Keep a good balance between your role as a coach and as a consultant
A consultant analyses a situation and provides advice based on this analysis. A coach helps clients develop solutions themselves. As an ODUM.digital challenger, you are both a consultant and a coach, but not at the same time.
It is important that you allow your client’s team to grow so that once you are no longer in the picture, they can independently continue to build on the (digital) evolution and professionalisation of the company. If, as a consultant, you always present them with ready-made solutions, they will benefit from that in the short term, but in the long term, they will not learn much. Therefore, it is important that you take the time to coach and motivate the client’s key staff members/management to brainstorm along, to come up with proposals, to make mistakes and ultimately, to foster personal growth.
D5. You share knowledge and create added value
As a digital coach, you rely on your experience to share knowledge. Digital challengers are not afraid to share their knowledge with clients. In fact, sharing know-how to help others grow is even something that makes you, as an ODUM.digital coach, happy. After all, one of your missions is to create added value for your client.
D6. You express yourself clearly
Als digitale coach maak je de klant wegwijs in de digitale wereld. Je waakt er daarom over begrijplelijke en eenvoudige taal te gebruiken zonder te vervallen in vakjargon. Je neemt de tijd om zaken goed uit te leggen, en toont je geduldig als je sommige zaken moet herhalen. Je begrijpt dat sommige zaken voor jou als digitale coach evident lijken, maar dat ze voor de klanten moeilijker te verstaan zijn.
D7. You respect the client’s pace
Als digitale coach en challenger wil je de klant inspireren, begeleiden en coachen om sneller en impactvoller te innoveren en een business/digitale transformatie te realiseren. Elke klant is anders: sommigen willen sneller gaan dan ze aan kunnen, anderen hebben net hulp nodig om hun interne motor te versnellen. Als digitale challenger is het belangrijk dat je dit goed aanvoelt en een gezonde balans houdt in de snelheid van de transformatie. Overleg hierover voldoende met je klant. Te snel gaan is niet goed, het is belangrijk dat de directie en key-users mee zijn. Echter het is ook jouw verantwoordelijkheid om de klant te informeren over de risico’s en kosten van uitstellen en vertragen. Geef wanneer nodig je klant ademruimte, bespreek desnoods een aanpassing van het aantal dagen per maand.
E1. You are well acquainted with the ODUM.digital methodology
Every ODUM.digital challenger who assists clients ensures they have acquainted themselves properly with the ODUM.digital methodology. This can be done either by attending an ODUM.digital masterclass or through a similar personal course/training programme.
E2. You apply the ODUM.digital methodology
When carrying out assignments on behalf of your clients, you apply the ODUM.digital methods and templates as much as possible. This includes a 24/36-month progress, a step-by-step plan and scoring techniques on technology and partner selection. These methods and templates are the result of years of experience, and will help you boost quality levels when completing the project. If you want to deviate from the methods, or if you have suggestions to improve the methods/templates, discuss this with your supervisor
E3. You centralise your insights and market studies, and make them reusable
The information gathered during your assignments and market studies should be stored in the ODUM.digital database. This will allow you and your colleague-coaches to rely on a wide knowledge platform so as to offer a precise response to clients’ needs.
E4. You adopt a visual approach and encourage interaction
You try as much as possible to inspire clients and spur them into action. You do this by working in a very visual manner, among other things. After all, images speak much louder than words. To achieve this, you use interactive workshop techniques, post-its and clear visuals.
E5. You regularly consult with your supervisor, who acts as a sounding board.
As an ODUM.digital challenger you are aware that you can rely not only on the knowledge platform, but you can also at any time personally speak to your supervisor, who acts as a sounding board and can help you successfully complete your assignment for the client.