transactional relationships have a fixed value
“The belief that the commonplace is really worth looking at, and the courage to look at it with a minimum of theorizing”
This is about business culture collaboration in business, organizational structure and customer relationships. What do they all have in common? If you treat them in a transactional way, you will not only have limited value you will have fixed value.
“Transactional relationships have a fixed value (i.e. the end goal) and an expiration date (i.e. when the end goal is achieved – or not). There is nothing beyond them. Change value for values and a transformation takes place because it adds a common, shared fluidity to them.”
This may sound obvious, but I would bet 90% of middle management exists in a transactional relationship world (albeit couched in structural, cultural verbiage). Heck. I would bet 75% of senior leadership thrives in a transactional relationship mindset.
We talk a good game on ‘soft skills’ and ‘the importance of culture’ and any number of non cause-effect measurable sales/revenue topics, but the reality is most of business is transactional – do this by then, what is ROI, KPI index, etc., i.e., simplistic cause-effect. Why? Its easier. Its ‘measurable’ (albeit sometimes dubiously measured). This is incredibly dangerous. Dangerous because in a complex business world an effect could be the result of multiple causes and an individual ‘cause’ can create multiple, often ripples, effects.
Here is the issue. A lesson I believe marketers, customer-centric, branders, organizational, etc. should ponder more often. While cause-effect is simpler, reality is much more fluid.
The former is finite value. The latter is infinite value.
I several thoughts:
Hopes and fears
Look. We promise according to our hopes; we perform according to our fears. This important from a finite AND infinite standpoint.
Somewhere along the way they began to see fears as assets and hopes as liabilities. That’s because, in a transactional world, fears drove measurable finite game type results and hopes seemed immeasurable in finite and too distant, transactionally, in the infinite
The fear of ‘death’ (failure) is the affirmation of the finite.
“From where you are you can hear their dreams. The dismays and despairs and flight and fall and big seas of their dreams.”
Somewhere along the way business, addicted to measurement & short term results (the finiteness of business), fear became the organizational emotional energy. That is bad. That is transactional. That is a fixed value relationship with people and time. I will say fixed value is limiting and un-fixed value is limitless.
I’ve always argued forced collaboration was waste of time. Why? Because, in today’s business world, more often than not its transactional.
We have entered a new age. I could argue as business organizations modeling has entered into a new age (grudgingly so), collaboration has also. Unfortunately, business, as business does, has mostly failed to shift attitudes, and modes of, toward collaboration as their organizations have shifted. We continue to supply the same flawed remedies for a new disease.
The truth is that real collaboration creates opportunities to escape the constraints and perceived barriers to address complex issues and access expertise on a broad scale. Yes. Using technology, business can certainly re-imagine collaboration. But (and this is a big but) to create the conditions in which collaboration can occur a business has to shed a transactional relationship with collaboration. Yeah. I just said that. Yeah. I seriously doubt any business will embrace that.
The truth is that, as Hamel & Prahalad said (in Competing for the Future, 1994), management needs to shift as systems shifts – and business has failed miserably on this front. One of the consequences to this failure is a continuing failure in Collaboration.
The promise of collaboration, in a technology world, is that it can occur across functional teams within an organization or across organizations. To realize the promise of collaboration, leaders and collaborators alike, need to learn to think strategically and critically about the most appropriate ways to choose tools, adapt processes and work in virtual spaces. Part of that challenge is there is no formula in that the tools, and collaboration itself, changes how we work as well as we change how the tools work for us.
I will admit that components of collaboration should meet ‘finite game’ business needs (leaning toward a transactional need), but collaboration should be emergent, therefore, not transactional in and of itself, but rather opportunistically result driven.
As Stowe Boyd said: ‘Designing culture’ that has taken hold in the short-circuited world of startup entrepreneurialism. It’s now a given – not subject to discussion or reflection – that
- organizational culture is an object, a thing subject to design and crafting,
- leadership should decide what the business culture ought to be,
- and impose that idea on the organization like an architect designing and constructing an airport, a hospital, or a shopping mall.
I am making up this %, but I would bet 90% of business culture is grounded in a transactional web of connective tissue. There will be values & ethics & a bunch of vision/Purpose-like narrative, but productivity, or proof or performance, is what connects it all. For good or for bad, the default state of any business is ‘we produce or die.’ Yes. That is, at its core, a transactional relationship. Yes. That means business, by default, seeks a fixed value state (which seems kind of nuts when viewed). Organizational structure IS shifting, systems are shifting, but I would argue the transactional tissue is viewed as the glue by leadership. That, my friends, is like putting a governor on a potential Lamborghini engine. That, my friends, is nuts.
Business has talked about ‘loyalty’ forever. The value of ongoing relationships. Yet. If you tear off all the pretty packaging almost every business views customer relationships through a transactional relationship lens. Its grounded in a “maximize each interaction” mentality. That, in and of itself, ensures a transactional fixed value. Just ponder.
In the end.
All successful organizations adapt by effectively deciding what is necessary to preserve and what should be let go. This is next to impossible to do if the business survives on ongoing transactional relationship mentality – thru culture, thru collaboration, thru structure, thru customer relationships. Period.