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hm. well, personally, I find 'relationships' in business usually raise costs. How to get around this? I don't know.

You could simply only buy commodities. If this is possible, it is clearly the best answer. However consulting isn't a commodity, and neither is design work. it seems that making it a commodity is a 'hard problem' - RFPs are one attempt to treat consulting as a commodity, and they are obviously imperfect.

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