How to not do supplier relationships

You can’t win wars where your allies are also your enemies.

Steve Tengler from Forbes Magazine recently wrote about how Audi was improving the reliability and quality of its cars … by helping its suppliers. And while I wished he had a little more robustness behind his conclusions, he reinforced just how important it is to focus on who makes your products and not just what they make.

Clinical interpretations of open-market capitalism will have you believe that all you need to do to pursue quality and reliability is to ‘deify’ the concept of ‘competition.’ The market becomes the only interface between the customer and the vendor, and the customer’s decision to purchase (or not purchase) then drives vendor behavior. Vendors who fail to adapt to evolving customer expectations go bankrupt. Those who do adapt stay in business. And those who anticipate what the customer wants (before the customer gets there) become wildly successful. Customers always win.