Partnerships are not always easy, but they are more important than ever. I urge all of us to extend ourselves in establishing and sustaining great partnerships with our vendors and customers.
There are some very simple steps to developing and sustaining a good partnership with your PCB vendor/partners. They are based on treating your partners as you want to be treated, as is commonly known as “The Golden Rule.” But before you do, please get rid of that other golden rule, “He who has the gold makes the rules.”
As the customer you can believe in this rule if you want to, but be careful; it will not get you anywhere when it comes to having a good partnership with your vendors, your reps, or your own employees. Frankly, it is a dumb rule to follow.
Intimidation, threats, yelling, and bullying might feel good for a minute, especially in times of severe frustration, but only for a minute and then your relationships will certainly suffer. It is not a good long-term strategy or philosophy. In fact, in the end you will be much worse off than the company that chooses to cultivate a partnership with its vendors.
But, like every good relationship, it is always a good idea to review what it takes to have great vendor partnerships. Here are some of the key ingredients needed to take our partnerships with our customers and vendors to the next level.
Like all relationships in life, having respect for one another is at the very top of the list. In fact, if you have respect for all of the people you work with, especially your vendors, everything else will fall into place. It’s that real golden rule again. But sometimes this is not easy. If your PCB supplier is having problems and not delivering on time, it can be hard to be patient. But, if you respect your partner and work with them, problems will get solved and the relationship will strengthen.
You have to trust one another. You must believe that you are sharing the same truths. If you honestly believe what your partner is telling you, there is no doubt they are telling you truth. You must believe that each of you has the best of intentions for the other.
Both partners must learn to depend and rely on each other. Remember that a partner is someone you work with so that together you can accomplish something that neither of you could accomplish alone. Learn to not only work together but to be so comfortable in the partnership that you freely share all new developments.
There is no doubt that partnerships—real partnerships—are not only good for your company, but they are good for our industry as well.
One great example is the COVID-19 pandemic. The reason that the scientists of the world were able to develop an effective vaccination so quickly was because they all worked in partnership. They left their corporate silos and developed an open and trusting exchange—not only of ideas, but also of knowledge. All through the process these researchers shared their developments and shared them immediately. When someone made a breakthrough, everyone working on the vaccine knew it right away. And we all benefitted from the results.
Another example of great things that partnerships can accomplish was the space program and President John F. Kennedy’s proclamation that before the end of the decade we would go to the moon. His words are worth repeating here because they represent one of the greatest examples of cooperative partnership the world has ever seen:
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. Because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept. One that we are unwilling to postpone. And therefore, as we set sail, we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous, and dangerous, and greatest adventure that man has ever embarked."
Think of everything that came out of this program, all the developments from the semiconductor to the PC and even Velcro. Think also of the companies working together to put that one man on the moon. Five months before the deadline, we did it!
Now as our industry faces numerous challenges, everything from offshore competition to material shortages and lagging technology, true partnerships are needed now more than ever. I would urge all of us who work in the electronics industry to heed the words of JFK, then take a lesson from the scientists who developed the vaccine and start working with our vendor partners in an intensive and intentional manner to make sure that we also can cooperatively once again reach for the moon.