How Big Companies Think

You probably know that inside your skull there is a brain divided into two halves, a right brain and a left brain, that collectively control the way you think, react, and behave.

Similarly, decisions at Big Companies are a team effort, the result of a shared opinion between two forces that guide a company’s thinking: the Organizational Mind and the Individual Mind.

Like the “right brain”, the Individual Mind uses reason and logic to identify opportunities and champion ideas. An individual within the Big Company – a Sally or Jim or Jennifer – can see the nuance in the value that you can bring to his or her organization and decide on whether to the weight of their support behind your partnership. Or they may be personally motivated to advocate on your behalf, recognizing an opportunity to make a name for themselves by personally sponsoring your partnership with their clout.

But the Individual Mind cannot function alone. It requires alignment with its counterpart, the Organizational Mind, in order to build momentum to carry out a plan. The Organizational Mind dictates how the company will perceive the value of an opportunity. Over time a Big Company evolves an organizational structure, a company culture, and a set of protective processes that determine whether the Individual Mind’s efforts will be thwarted. A culture that discourages risk-taking, a siloed organization, or an endless series of bureaucratic obstacles can squash even the greatest of partnership or sales opportunities.

To succeed in working with a Big Company, you need to create alignment between the Individual Mind and the Organizational Mind. You need an individual who cares enough to stand behind your deal, and an organization that is willing to get out of its own way when pursuing growth opportunities in a way that is new (and therefore scary) to it.

You won’t always find that alignment in the first place you look. You may have a contact within a Big Company who champions your deal with all of their might, but an organization that won’t support innovation at the expense of risk. Or you may find a Big Company with a history of doing exciting deals, but no individual who cares enough about the value that you create for them personally to shepherd you through the organization.

When pursuing deals with a Big Company, it’s not enough to have the support of the Individual Mind or the Organizational Mind alone. You need both.

13 Responses to How Big Companies Think
  1. Want to Get Better at Business Development? Learn to code. - The Start of the Deal - Scott Pollack on Business Development and Partnerships Reply

    […] long-term options, and generally play games in a partnership negotiation, the harder it will be to pass through the filters of the Organizational Mind and get the buy-in needed to move […]

  2. Kevin McKeown Reply

    Scott, well said. I was trying to communicate the same message to my partner the other day. I cut my BD chops at Mitsubishi International Corporation. I’m adding your blog to my blog: as a BD resource for my audience. I’ll also send you a LN invite. I just followed you on Twitter. I’m @kevinmckeown. Love to talk on the phone or hook up some time. Hard to find BD folks that truly understand that “Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships.” Your quote from your Forbes article: Well done. Take care, KPM

    • slpollack Reply

      Thanks Kevin!

      • onyena Reply

        Hi Kevin, thanks for all for your teaches, does’t have idea of Business Development but reading your lecture has giving a glimpse of what it is all about. do have idea about export business too.

  3. Don’t Be Deceived by Titles (or, What Star Wars Taught Me About Business Development) - The Start of the Deal - Scott Pollack on Business Development and Partnerships Reply

    […] who holds the cards in deciding on what to do with your deal.  While you’re always looking to find those individuals whose personal motivations align with the organization’s motivations, those people may not always be easily found at the top of the […]

  4. The Getting In The Door Series #1: Patient Persistence - The Start of the Deal - Scott Pollack on Business Development and Partnerships Reply

    […] to assess what may be of importance to them right now. The more your message can reflect the alignment between what’s of interest to them and what matters to their organization, the better your chances of provoking a […]

  5. Do Things That Don’t Scale in Business Development - The Start of the Deal - Scott Pollack on Business Development and Partnerships Reply

    […] or to partner.  It is usually neither quick nor easy to research and digest the motivations of a company and an individual to the point where you can clearly articulate why they should care to spend their time on you. […]

  6. The Local Politics of Selling an Idea - The Start of the Deal - Scott Pollack on Business Development and Partnerships Reply

    […] A U.S. Senator has a national stage but is elected by local voters.  Working with your company may have strategic importance across an enterprise, but the decision to work with you is also in the hands of the local voters: the specific teams and individual people within the organization who care about the value you can provide to their roles and lives.  Appealing to local interests is the the path to creating value that is recognized across a company. […]

  7. […] having a large network is valuable in business development. From getting in the door to turning indi...
  8. […] A U.S. Senator has a national stage but is elected by local voters. Working with your company may ha...

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