Within a minute I can tell how a meeting and a long terms business relationship is going to go, especially where bacon is concerned.

Can I get you a drink?

Tea, coffee and water are a given. Everyone needs at least one of these things to function. So as a device for meeting and business success prediction it’s fairly weak.

Bacon however changes all that, there’s currency involved and money has been spent.

The Meeting

Proposals were put forward by management, multiple phone calls on whether the company could perform such an operation. All minds put at rest and a date for a pitch set. As an employee I get the call, can I fly over to England to help out on the pitch from a technical viewpoint. Flights booked, info got and meet at the hotel for lunch, then an afternoon planning for the pitch the following morning.

It’s not a small client, this is a household name. And on the morning driving up to the offices you get a sense of scale. Five of us arrive in reception, told to wait and then assistance arrives. Walking through oak paneled corridors you get a sense on the money sloshing about in the industry they’re the leader in.

First thing I and another tech colleague spot is a large platter of bacon baps (the word sandwich gives the sense of white bread slices, it is not this at all, they are baps). “We will do well here” was the general feeling on seeing at least fifty fresh bacon breakfast treats, just as well as breakfast was skipped for a final pitch run through.

The team were assigned to the far side of the table, maximum distance from the bacon platter. “It’ll be okay, they’ll be offered around”, as more staff filed in and sat down nearer the bacon. As people sat down they all passed the platter and picked up a bap and tucked in, the unwritten rules were in play. And while the tea and coffee was poured out the meeting started and at that point I knew the meeting was going to lead to problems.

Three Hours Later

The pitch started, finished and a long drawn out question and answer session continued. We’d had our one cup of tea and the bacon mountain had hardly moved. If a client can’t offer you a bacon bap and extend an arm of confidence, trust or bacon then I will question the long term plan of the client.

As the meeting concluded there were a lot of handshakes (15 client representative, you can work out the combinations for a team of five) and nods of heads, small talk and a large platter of untouched, cold and destined for the bin, bacon baps.

Myself and my colleague gave the platter a final look and as we walked out of the reception area on to the street I said to them, “This is not going to go how we want it to go.”.

I was 100% on the money. Ropey specifications, holding on to information, internal politics like I’d never witnessed before, manipulation of third parties – it very nearly killed the supplier I worked for  and other suppliers too (some others being household names too).

It doesn’t have to be bacon

For me those first meetings tell me everything and I know it’s been documented a thousand times over. I’ve never seen a bacon bap platter since so my focus will go on something else. I think Cloudera were right though, “Data is the new bacon”, bacon taught me an awful lot of decision process, meeting psychology and staff placement in a meeting room. It’s like wedding planning but with more bacon…..

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