There must be something in the air. The current recession appears to be bringing out the more base tendencies in at least some practitioners, vendors, former employees of vendors, consultants, and even some analyst firms of late (in the last case, fortunately not in our sector, at least based on the examples I have). In recent months, I've seen and witnessed numerous examples of deals and relationships falling apart based on new sets of demands from one party or another. I've also seen a number of examples of new-takes -- and even reincarnations -- of existing pay-to-play business models when it comes to those who claim to influence the industry. To anyone engaged in such behavior, I would offer the basic words of wisdom: what goes around comes around.
Need examples? There's a reason why two vendors I know of in particular have more than one member of their user base -- whom I’ve recently spoken with -- that are getting very excited about the opportunity to explore their options and beat-up their existing incumbent when it comes time for renewal (and it's not just because of the way the solutions have worked for them). There's also a reason why some of the best minds in our business -- from an analyst standpoint -- would need to be pushed to the monetary brink to even consider an offer from one firm in particular (based on its past behaviors and other factors). And there's a reason why some people I know are seething when their former employees steal product IP, sharing it with multiple companies for a buck while attempting to pass it off as their own.
Relationships matter in this world. If you treat a customer, prospect, employee, former employer or partner in ways that are not up front or are in any way disingenuous, unethical or unappreciative, what goes around will come around -- even in potentially distant ways that are impossible to conceive of up front. And with issues of spend in a downturn, relationships matter most. So look at the current environment as a chance to deepen professional bonds -- both for your organization and yourself. You'll never know when it might come back to help sometime. Or maybe you will, perhaps sooner rather than later. Regardless, don't fall into the trap of using the downturn as an excuse to push through policy that could ultimately cost far more than any near term benefit that might seem to accrue. Be true to yourself and others and put ethics first.