Thursday, May 25, 2006

One Snowflake Can Start an Avalanche

In a staff meeting three weeks ago, I casually mentioned a company I heard of that was in my market space, saying I could investigate them as a potential partner, customer, or even acquisition candidate. It was two sentence defensive response to a sharp inquiry from my EVP asking if I was "shaking enough trees". They were way down on my engagement list, and I figured I would do some light research on them while I focused on the 20 other companies that are higher on my list, are more serious, have more money, and are consuming 110% my time. I didn't think of this company as a real engagement candidate, but figured I could throw an email or two together on them to keep the EVP mollified that I was keeping my queue full.

But those two sentences were overheard. Next thing I know someone else in my group - either looking for something to do, or to do a deal behind my back - sent inquires to two other departments asking about this company. The Legal Department got wind of the inquiry, and started a due diligence report so that we would "not be blindsided in any discussion". During Legal's research, they asked questions to R&D, who promptly decided they should spend time creating a competitive comparison. During their work, an engineering VP engineering who thinks himself as better "connected" than yours truly started talking to vendors and other companies in the industry, getting information and creating a dossier.

So now I have a pile of information sitting on my desk along with contact information and a complete company dossier. My EVP is now wanting to know when I am go close a deal.

Now, mind you, if I had ASKED these groups to do this work for one of the top 20 companies on my list, I would have waited. And waited. And waited. And ultimately not gotten a response until I went and twisted arms. But when the information is being fed by rumor and innuendo, then EVERYONE wants in on the deal.

Next time I'll keep my mouth shut.

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