Relationships versus Transactions

Should we reinvent the wheel with every customer? 

Should we do consultancy?

Should we focus on strategic partnerships?

Should we stop doing projects for customers?

Should we use tools or build it ourselves

Should we invest in developing the standardized platform?

Should we focus on the one trick everybody wants from us?

At the core of all these questions is the dilemma between focusing on relationships or transactions

It is a big topic and a returning topics whenever I work with a team. There is a lot of disagreement and discussion about it. The mentality and mindset towards this topics also varies a lot per person.

So here is how I explain the difference and make it clear how they are related to each other and that the team needs to focus on both.

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As you figure out the graph and the table above you will see that the answer is twofold:

Lifecycle thinking

One the one side you need to figure out where in the lifecycle the project, product or venture is. Are we still learning about the problem? Are we comfortable being on stage and taking the attention? Are we still extinguishing the fire in the house or building a new one? Are we loyal to the system we come from or are we breaking free? Are we capable of surviving in the market with the existing “products” we have?

Personal preferences

On the other side it depends on the psychological profiles of the team if they feel comfortable having a transactional or relational mindset. These are deep deep rooted preferences on how to deal with the world which can’t be changed easily. If you have a purpose driven visionary team they will most likely have a hard time to ever become transactional. On the other side a pragmatic and opportunistic team will not develop a next generation product and tend to work together only as long as the results are good.


My tip is to open the discussion within the team and acknowledge that you need a team narrative that allows for both relationships and transactions. In every team there is need to form support and the capability to sell something in a transactional way. So what is your team story?

I provide workshops in which I work with teams to get this clear. In these sessions we use the Team Journey Canvas and we use team data that tells us more about the psychological preferences of a team. If you are interested let me know.