Last year, I started dating again after the demise of my decade-long arranged marriage. After lots of ups and downs and not being able to agree on a single thing, we decided to call it a day.
In a bid to move on with my life, with my previous marriage as my only point of reference, I created a profile for myself and on a dating site, highlighting what I thought were the most important requirements I was looking for in a (potential marriage) partner; including height, salary and level of education.
After a few dates, I quickly realised that whilst these men were short-listed based on meeting my stipulated requirements we didn’t actually have a lot else in common, including values, principles or vision and I found myself becoming exasperated with them.
This completely flummoxed me and I spent some time mulling this over before I went on another date with anyone else.
Around the same time, I was working closely with a retailer's Procurement Team on a tender process. It didn’t take me long to see the commonalities between the tender and my dating life. I quickly realised that it was all too easy to go into any partnership, marriage or supplier, with a list of criteria that didn't really mean anything.
The buyer at my company had put a general Request for Information (RFI) out to suppliers in the industry and subsequently shortlisted based on what was most important to him (cost) and didn’t delve any deeper into the suppliers' credentials. This resonated with my dating profile and selection criteria - I was so determined to marry someone taller than my ex-husband that I had made this my tallest (pun intended), most important requisite in finding a new partner.
When my buyer had been through the (not-so-) tender process of beating the selected supplier down on price, he handed them over to me to so we could begin working together. How was I ever going to get this relationship to work now with so much mistrust and inequality in our positioning?
I decided the best thing to do was to “court” my supplier. Scheduling regular meetings to engage with them over a period of time, I made the effort to really get to know them. I shared our company’s history, our values and vision. Just as importantly, I took the time to understand what was important to my supplier; what were their motivations, their distinctives, their strengths?
Luckily, we turned out to have similar visions and values and were able to work well together - to the point of my supplier becoming an ambassador for our brand. But what if I'd not been so lucky and ended up in another arranged marriage, albeit with a supplier, who didn't have any commonalities with our business? It would have been another doomed relationship.
I took the valuable learnings from this tender process and updated my dating profile to be transparent about the things that were truly most important to me. And of course I now draw on this lesson every day at work in my role with S4RB, where I help Retailers improve results through better communication with their suppliers.