When I tell people I do "corporate development" work, I usually get a blank stare. So I lamely have to add, "you know, mergers and acquisitions, that sort of thing. . . " It was easier when I just had to say I was a lawyer, but of course the work wasn't nearly as fun.
I'm sure different companies put slightly different spins on what "corporate development" means, but in my view it's the group with responsibility for ensuring that 1) the company's inorganic growth needs are met, and 2) the value of company assets are maximized, whether in asset sales, spin-offs, major investments or sale of the company itself. Or to put it simply - you buy and sell all the stuff that your purchasing department doesn't deal with.
In my experience, the scope of corporate development has also included interactions with competitors (joint ventures, roaming agreements), development of corporate strategy and resolution of big, nasty problems that no other function seems positioned to solve. I've also seen some companies where the development function also incorporates long-term financial planning of the sort usually found in the CFO's shop.
My purpose in this blog is to develop my thoughts (and hopefully pick up some insights) on the strategy and tactics behind the bread-and-butter corporate development work of buying, selling and making strategic alliances. Much of this stuff - negotiating, building relationships, making good decisions - can also be usefully applied to just about anything in corporate life.