What Do You Want, Really?

What Do You Want, Really?


"The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision." – Helen Keller

Like most of you, I have spent much of my business career sitting in meetings.

Some have been highly productive and energizing, but far too many have not been. Those non-productive meetings have wasted time, sapped energy and often left the participants frustrated, angry and/or resentful. Often they have actually eroded trust and made things worse. Those meetings drive me crazy.

Over time, I have become more selective when investing time attending or organizing meetings. Now when I am invited to a meeting – or when I organize one, I want to clearly understand the purpose of the meeting.

What does the organizer of the meeting want to accomplish – really?

Stating with the end in mind, what action(s) should result from this meeting? If I can’t get the answer to that question before the meeting or immediately after the meeting begins, I know we’re in trouble.

After all, if the meeting leader has not started with the end-in-mind, then we are most likely destined to wander aimlessly through the agenda topics with no clear goal in mind. And, as the saying goes: If you don’t know where you’re going, any road can lead you there.

That’s true with customer and supplier relationships as well. Sometimes we try out business relationships to see where they’ll go. We seek to find common ground and interests before deciding the form the relationship will take. But if we’re not just on a scouting trip, and we’re looking for a particular type of relationship, it’s important that we get clear about what we want.

  • Are we looking for a good vendor?
  • An outsourced option?
  • A strategic partner?

Each type of relationship has a different level of risk and reward structure underlying the relationship. The clearer we can be in what we want from the relationship – and what we are willing to invest in the relationship – the better chance we have at creating productive and powerful business relationships.

So, what do you want from your business relationships – really?

Photo courtesy of Jenny Downing.

Sallie Sherman is the CEO of S4 Consulting. She is an expert in helping organizational leaders transform the way they approach critical B2B relationships and implement the complex changes needed to manage those relationships as strategic assets. Sallie has written two books.