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  • Writer's pictureJon

Playing Nicely

If your company was a person, how would the people who work with you describe it? Considerate and easy to get along with? Or thoughtless and selfish? Or nice but dim?

The way your company does business can either enhance or detract from the relationships you have with your partners and suppliers.

Inadvertently its very easy to create cost for each other at every point of interaction. Often, it’s the administrative processes that go on behind the scenes which can make you hard to work with reducing productivity for all concerned and reducing the value from the collaboration.

Bizarrely once we have developed a relationship we sometimes find it difficult to be open about the reality of situation (maybe through fear of offending) - uncertainty and misplaced optimism are experts at generating work so happily fill the void. There are also more fundamental ways we make work that I had never appreciated until running my own business.

The obvious (and most emotive) example is paying invoices. I am very lucky my clients pay me for what I do. Some pay me more than others and to different timescales. Some pay me on time and some don’t. I love all my clients. They are all equal – but the ones that pay me early or on time are the most equal.

Those that don’t pay on time are not being nasty but they create work for me and for themselves. And while I’m chasing payment, I’m not doing more useful work that could increase their bottom line. I’m a tiny organisation but scale this across UK PLC and it’s no wonder we have no productivity growth when we’re all chasing each other for payment.

The marginal gains of paying to term every time would be huge for our economy. This example is by no means restricted to buyers -after all they may not be able to pay a supplier on time if the supplier can’t be bothered to get the bill right. And doesn’t take any skill, just thoughtfully designed processes that are executed with the wellbeing of both parties in mind.

I believe that a good supplier experience and good customer experience are equally important. Do you know how it feels to do business with you? Would you want to do business with you?

You get more out of people who want to work with you than those who do so out of necessity. Companies that are easy to work with attract and retain the best talent, have the strongest ecosystem, and will get the most out of the companies they work with. Playing nicely with others is a smart strategy with long-term benefits.

If you have ideas of how working together could be easier and more frictionless, I’d love to hear them. The future is about collaboration so we need to get better at it.

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