Given how critical Relationships are to the success of most organizations, it is amazing how little we actually know about them.
Typically, we use generalizations such as ‘excellent’, ‘good’ or ‘could be better’ to describe relationships, an approach that is at best subjective and at worst inaccurate. For example, if you sell office furniture and have an excellent relationship with the CEO of ABC Ltd, but a poor relationship with the Facilities Manager, how would you describe your overall relationship with ABC?
Customer satisfaction surveys are an attempt to apply some empirical measure to relationships, but again, assessment will likely vary according to who completes the survey. Would ABC’s CEO and Facilities Manager give you the same rating?
Relationships between organizations are typically multidimensional- many of your people are likely to interact with many people at ABC. And then there is the matter of who (the people) your relationships are with. Ideally you would prefer they be with people of power and influence.
The bottom line is that the quality of your relationship with ABC is likely to be made up of a number of dimensions and perspectives. The question is; how can these various moving parts be reconciled to some simple usable metrics? And why does it matter? Well, if you can measure your relationships, you can then manage them.
What gets measured
Related Vision's Relationship Capital framework is a unique approach to measuring the effectiveness of business relationships. It considers a number of dimensions to define the relationship between two groups of people as viewed from the perspective of one (e.g. US - all or part of your organization) with respect to the other (THEM - customers, suppliers, markets etc).
To determine the potential impact of a relationship the system also factors in Power and Influence.
How does it work in practice?
Maintaining the relationship information necessary for measurement involves little effort beyond that required to maintain a basic contact management system, but the benefits are of course far greater. In fact, it is arguably less effort than those systems, as with Traxor you need only enter data once (e.g. organization or person). There is no need delete and re-enter people as they change jobs; instead you simply relate and un-relate (link/unlink) them to job positions as required.
Similarly, a few mouse clicks relates one person to another and no further maintenance is required. As they change jobs, their person to person relationships remain intact, which of course changes the dynamics of your relationships with the organizations they are in. Relationship Strength scores are arrived at by answering a quick online survey that uses your impressions of a recent meeting with an individual to evaluate your relationship with them.
The Bottom Line
The values for the relationship dimensions described above are used as inputs in calculating a Relationship Security score, which is an overall measure of the relationship between two organizations. To see some examples of the varitey of ways in which you can use this information, take a look at Traxor Relationship Reports.