Any one for a set dance? Or even better, for all 3?

In Ireland and Scotland, set dancing or Cèilidhs is still quite contemporary and made famous by River dance at the Eurosong contest in 1994. Wikipedia advises us that in the olden days, it facilitated courting and prospects of marriage for young people. The music is cheerful and lively, and the basic steps can be learned easily. Knowledge and use of the basic dance steps is not always strictly necessary, and dances often alternate with songs, poetry recitals, story telling and other types of “party pieces”. While Cèilidhs in itself gives rise to an interesting blog, and while I am all for dancing, (it takes 2 to tango! so suppliers, be warned!), I am talking about different “sets”.

I am referring to the ones that will enable any buying team (or even selling team?) to conduct a great negotiation and make (or trigger) the right decision and that will allow them “to do the right things by doing things right”. Below are a few thoughts around the “3 sets” that are necessary to enable this meaningful dance.


  • Open your mind – You will make the wrong, short-term or inadequate decision for the future if you don’t. Let the expert suppliers bring you as far as they can take you for the possible options to consider and embrace the one that will take you beyond your own boundaries.
  • Know the others – Your internal and external customers, the market, the environment and sorry to say, but it is not about you! Do your own homework, research and plan your strategy and tactics ahead and adapt.
  • Know yourself – be honest and clear – what do you want, what do you need? If you do not know, ask for support and let trusted advisors guide you on your path of discovery.
  • Be relevant – stop talking rubbish and focus on what makes every stakeholder in the project want to work together or make them as happy as they can be to do so.
  • Be irrelevant – think outside of the box once in a while and dare to change, sometimes taking a risk is the best way forward, standing still is definitely not.
  • Be passionate – share your heart, trust the other side, dare to believe. If the trust is being misused, you will have learnt a lot for future projects and you still have the silver lining.
  • Be tenacious – don’t suffer fools and measure to improve, continuously, relentlessly, and learn through the process.
  • Be the best you can be – go for gold and collaborate to win.


Referring to one of my previous blogs, I believe that a good negotiator becomes a great collaborator if they:

  • Have a degree in psychology as buyers examine the various aspects of your personal and professional experience, emotions, thoughts and actions.
  • Have majored in accountancy as we too turn to the measurement, processing and communication of financial information about competitive cost-benefit analysis and we challenge your mind with your own financial ratios calculations and are passionate about the bigger picture
  • Are proficient in applying project management practice and will use governance and stakeholder engagement matrix to make all stakeholders behave and pull you back in to line.
  • Cozy up to engineers to understand their process driven but very creative minds, we should crave their engagement and innovation as they see and believe in worlds beyond the current one.
  • Challenge the marketing guru’s view who enlighten me with the new emerging trends and I enlighten them with the practical applications of their clear messages.
  • Manage the terms and conditions through until one of these dubious amended articles (liabilities, indemnities, et alii) are catching me out and I need to consult the real legal profession (love you guys by the way!)
  • Be as knowledgeable or even more than the sales manager. Either I have done my research and am genuinely interested in delivering the Value for Money proposition that procurement professional all want to be recognized. If I fake it, I might get away with it for a while, but I will in time make the wrong buying decisions, which will cost me dearly.
  • Lead like a scouts leader in the olden days, (every one still with me?) it is all about teamwork and high fiving when there is a roadmap to follow and focus on singing along the way, it chases the dragons away.


  • Once you have the right mentality and the multi-disciplinary skills, you would be looking to your company to provide you with the right tools. My opinion about tools – they are “tools” in every sense of the word! In the good sense of the word, they are the  most powerful enablers and should enhance your skillset tenfold, and their use should motivate you to test it to its full potential. In the bad sense of the word, they are just instruments, to help you to do an activity or activities, they do not come with a moral compass and definitely are not fitted out with a panic button when the hammer is going to land right on your thumb, instead of the nail. Bottom line, if you use it wrongly or for the wrong reasons, don’t expect the tool to turn your wrong in to a right.
  • In this digital world, we are all about trying to make sense out of this huge ocean of data, the new free resource that tsunami’s down on us everyday and so we surround ourselves with e-tools, faster, cheaper, easier, better or even smarter, the smarter the better…and what a competitive advantage they can be as they can buy me time, money, effort… But you know what? I only think it is smart if it matches or leads my natural thought process and enables me to see the different options available to me that I hadn’t thought about. Currently the majority churn the same data in different ways – sure they are faster, cheaper, easier, better but smarter? Some tools already are amazingly smart but I beleive it will take another while before tools will be able to incorporate our right mindset too, and without that, they are not as smart as us yet…yet…

Most of the time, dancing is a social interaction with more than one partner. Everyone wants to dance with partners that lead well, who will guide and glide you seamlessly over the dancefloor. But to be best, these leaders need to have the skill and ability to read their partners like a book, pre-empt their every move, pro-actively think out their dance plan and make their partners shine on the dance floor. They need their counterparts to follow them without any reluctance, believe them, trust in them because without them, the leader can not achieve their own goal: to be recognised as the best catch on the dance floor.

Tools, skills, mind, if you have them all, you have the perfect set to succeed, and not only in your dance.


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