In my most recent blog, I talked about the error of trying to squeeze a new paradigm into an established mould. It’s been brought to my attention that I may have been a little harsh. A little negative. It was even suggested that I was not *gasp!* my usual cheery self!
Perhaps I’m being a bit hard on them. After all, it’s not easy to change the way you look at an established business. Especially when the business in question has been successful for so long.
But this is the very challenge facing business after business in industry after industry – how do we adapt an established business to new challenges? The answer invariably comes back to the same thing – with new thinking.
By this I don’t mean new ways to do what we already do. I’m talking about a revolution in thinking, not an evolution – and revolutions by definition require revolutionaries. Rick Barrera’s bestselling “Overpromise and Overdeliver” is full of examples of established, successful businesses who reinvented or refocused themselves and were able to effect substantial changes in their business models – to dramatic effect on the bottom line.
What did all these businesses had in common? They stopped thinking about how to make the customer do what their business model required and started thinking about how to design their business model to provide what their customers required.
That same approach is being applied in all facets of business negotiation. Instead of learning tricks and stunts designed to lead the opposite party to an ‘ideal’ decision, forward thinking negotiators are partnering with their supposed adversaries and finding ways to come together to create value for all parties.
Imagine that – instead of my counterpart trying to gobble up as much from the negotiations as possible, he’s trying to find out what it is I need and trying to find ways to give it to me. And I’m doing the same. We’re working together to build a deal and a relationship that will not only add value to both of us, but which stands a much better chance of surviving well past the signing.
Sound like utopia? A pipe dream? It’s not. It’s happening in the boardrooms and conference rooms and back rooms of businesses large and small across the world. Potential executives are using this approach when interviewing for positions, farmers and co-ops are using this approach in their dealings with distributors. Small business owners and captains of industry, politicians and community organizations, employers and unions – they’re all coming to see the value in a collaborative process instead of a strictly competitive one.
In your negotiations, including (and especially) your dealings with your customers, are you trying to find out what they want and finding creative solutions to giving it to them, or are you trying to find a way to make them do what you want them to do. And do you know the difference?
Your competition does.