Organisations must be Negotiation Ready!

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You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.
— Alvin Toffler

“Where do we start?” The strategic direction of organisations are most effective when solving problems or leveraging opportunities.

Over the last few years, around the world, I've been fortunate to have researched and delivered some negotiation workshops on how and why organisations need to develop teams of negotiators and not just individual stars. I love this African proverb:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
African Proverb.

When I first left school, I was fortunate to be offered a scholarship to attend a special military school in the Regular Army and then served in the Army Reserve, being awarded the Australian Defense Medal. From my military service, I became an expert in map reading and getting from A to B using a topographical map and a compass. During this time there was no internet or GPS. In map reading, even in this digital age, there are three different Norths shown on each map.

True north relates to the physical locations of the True North and South poles, useful but not important for most people.

Grid north relates to the grid lines on the map and is useful for standing on a piece of dirt and orienting the map to where you are and where you need to go. Today GPS and google maps do this for you every day.

Magnetic north is where the needle on the compass points. It allows you to calculate where you are exactly on the globe and in practice is what you use to get from A to B.

The three Norths are a useful metaphor when you realise that the many players in an organisation are using different approaches or different Norths to achieve their aim. One of the key learning’s of our global negotiations is that internal teams need to be on the same planning page to effectively negotiate with a key account.

Organisations need to be clear with what they want the negotiator or team to achieve in each internal/external negotiation. Often there is too much reliance on one or two top negotiators to achieve success. The reason that we develop many people in the organisation to be best-in-class negotiators is to ensure that the organisation can change quickly to disruptions in their marketplace and new opportunities that arise.

Successful organisations need a consistent negotiation framework for all teams; a toolbox of planning templates, a value model for developing all negotiations, and good individuals that are even better when working as part of a negotiation team.

Clarity comes from understanding what needs to be achieved at the negotiation and knowing how to get there, how to achieve an optimal outcome.

Due to the dramatic digital disruption across all industries, internally people must negotiate changes faster. Externally with customers, key accounts, critical stakeholders and decision makers, we must be agile in our negotiations to create value that allows us to have a competitive edge. Find out more in The Creative Negotiator, 2nd Edition by Stephen Kozicki.

Recently, I worked with a supplier team on a live negotiation with a private hospital buying group, for a three-year contract for medical supplies and drugs worth about $25 million a year.

During the preparation, I noticed team members could not focus on preparation. Each of the four business groups had their own way of planning for negotiations. So, we worked on a common framework, the map and decided what we wanted to achieve in the negotiation and how to get there, the compass.

For most organisations, true north and grid north is nice to know, but focus and planning need to be on getting from A to B. With focus, it was clear they were dealing with a distributive negotiation as the other party was not interested in working together, they just wanted a lower price.

Focus and preparation are just two aspects of negotiation when an organisation develops its people and teams to negotiate differently.

But the results speak for themselves, across industries and cultures. Negotiating teams applying an organisational approach, achieve much better outcomes and deals last longer as both sides are engaged in making it work. Because of the preparation, the value makes sense and at the table becomes a tangible discussion point and not an unprovable assertion.

We don’t need maps and compasses today as technology does that all for us, but we do need an organisational capability that allows us to negotiate a better future, faster.

Remember a champion team will out-perform a team of champions, every time.