Dave Fails at Business Relationship Management

A story from our Principal Consultant, Shane Johnson, originally posted to LinkedIn.

It’s just another working day at Consolidated Synergistics, when my phone rings for the 10th time this morning (in the spirit of full disclosure, it actually played the first few bars of Beethoven’s 5th, so I knew already who it was).

“Yeees?” I answered tentatively.

“Maaaate!  How’s it going?  Long time no hear!”

Oh dear – the ringtone didn’t lie.  It’s Dave (still not his real name) of Espresso Machine Business Case fame…

“Hello, Dave – fancy hearing from you!  To what do I owe the pleasure of this call?”

“Well, you know how I decided to leave to pursue other opportunities, right?  It looks like I made the right call as I’ve just scored a position as a Business Relationship Manager at BigCorp!”

“Really?  Well, I guess congratulations are in order.  I didn’t know you had any experience in business relationship management.  When do you start, or have you already started?”

“Nah, haven’t started yet.  In fact, it’s kind of the reason I’m calling you.”

“Oh?  Why?”

“I need you to be a referee for me, and say nice things about my BRM expertise at ConSyn.”

At this point I developed a bad case of Spock Eyebrows, as incredulity crossed my features.

“I don’t understand.  Didn’t you just say that you’d scored the BRM position?  Why would you need me as a referee then – especially since I know for a fact that you never were a BRM here?”

“Ah, well.  When I said that I’d scored a position, I was anticipating the future state of my employment.  Subject to your cooperation of course…  I may have mentioned in my CV that I was the lead BRM there, and they are asking to talk to somebody as a referee for that role, and I immediately thought of you.”

“I see.  The immediate thought of me as a referee wouldn’t have had anything to do with you claiming occupancy of one of the roles I have performed here for the last two years, would it?”

“Hey – no need to sound all indignant!  As you just said, it’s only one of your roles.  It’s not like you’re going to suddenly have a blank space on your business card or anything!  I’m just asking for a small favour between friends, a simple phone call.”

“Friends?  I seem to recall one of our last conversations ending with you deciding to update your Facebook status to ‘Bored’.”

“Whatever.  Anyhow, you were boring.  All that going on about business cases and telling the truth and not fudging the figures and stuff and moralising about my beautiful espresso machine.  Are you going to help me or not?”

“What?  Are you serious?  mans health Leaving aside the issue that you’re claiming a role you’ve never occupied, you don’t know the first thing about business relationship management.  How did you think you were going to be able to keep the role, even if by some miracle you passed vetting?  They would spot you as a fake within the first week!”

“Not a chance – I saw what you did in your job and it’ll be a walk in the park.  How hard is it to pretend to be interested in what your customer is saying and nodding your head periodically, whilst sipping on yet another double decaf latte in between nibbles on your artisanal organic purple wheat sourdough and smashed avo?  As long as I don’t burp in public and sprinkle BRM-ish phrases in my conversations, I’m set!”

“Oh, really?”

“Yep – and I can just Google anything I’m not sure of.”

“Okay, have you ever developed a Customer Value Hierarchy?”


“Produced a Business Capability Roadmap?”

“A what?”

“Participated in a Portfolio rebalancing exercise?”

“Now you’re just making stuff up!”

“Hah – no need to make it up.  How about dealing with the implications of the Expression Barrier on an organisation’s Strategic Context?”

“I recognise the language, but I’m suspicious of the sequence of the words.  What’s your point?????”

“My point is that you aren’t the real deal.  I’m downgrading my prediction and reckon you won’t be able to fake it beyond morning tea on the first day.  If you’re serious about this BRM thing, I can lend you my course notes from my BRM course, but that’s it.  No reference, no faking it on your behalf.”

“That’s your final offer?”

“Actually, think of it more as a final non-offer.  And on that note, it’s morning tea and I’m off for a coffee.”

“Whatever.  I guess on your salary you can afford to be off to the coffee shop to get yet another hipster coffee.”

“Coffee shop?  No – I don’t go there any longer.  The breakout area has a really nice new and very very expensive espresso machine which, incidentally, I think you’d recognise.”

“WHAT?  You got MY coffee machine, after all that lecturing about my business case for it?  You traitor!  You snake-in-the-grass!”

“Well, yes.  It was a very nice machine, but you sucked at business cases.  I, on the other hand, produce quite nice business cases and got it funded first time around.  Another BRM competency, don’t you know…..”

“Aaaarrrrrrgh!” *click*


The above may or may not have been a true story.  Dave (still not his real name) didn’t get the role.  His last status update was “attending Barista training”