Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Personal Business Bedfellows

Last week, I attended a national conference - my first - for work.

The first full day of sessions was largely a bust and I didn't get much out of the topics, but the swag was decent and the opportunities to shake hands, smile, and network made it worth it.

The second day though, I attended a session on becoming "Bedfellows" with other organizations outside my industry. Since this was a relevant and timely topic, I decided to attend. Immediately, I was engaged with the information the panel was disseminating and began taking copious notes.

Here are some of the notes I took:

- Clarity is key.
     What is my objective?
     What are the benefits?
     What does success look like?
      Do we share the same mission, values, needs, and goals?
      Is this strategic or convenient?

At this point, I had an aha! moment.

I realized everything the presenter was emphasizing had practical application in personal relationships as well as business. What he was offering - sound business principles - were so sound, if practiced wisely, were the grounds for successful bedfellowing elsewhere...and I do mean literally.

He went on to share an anecdote about how the NY Times (the NY mutherfrakking Times, y'all!) approached his organization and pitched a collaboration. Sweet! Right?

And they were so very excited...giddy...over what seemed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. That's heady stuff.

But when he and his team sat down and began examining the particulars, they realized that, as tempting as the offer was, it was not a good fit for them - the cost too great. Not enough time or resources for very little return.

Now, I understand personal relationships are not exactly business decisions and it's extraordinarily difficult to have clarity when there is chemistry involved. Trust me, I totally get that. But aren't personal relationships some of the single most important personal business decisions we make?

So, what if, instead of letting our hormones drive our decisions, we allow ourselves to acknowledge that desire all while having conversations with each other about whether or not we're even in the same car let alone on the same road?

What if, when we decide to engage in a collaboration, we can:

- Be clear about our own objectives
- Focus on the what and the why before the how
- Refrain from overreaching or over-promising
- And be prepared to adjust and adapt to our partner's needs?

That's what I call good business.

A year ago: Even When Life Feels Hard...

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