Thursday, October 04, 2007

Fearful of negotiating? Better get over it

Time was, we used to be product developers and manufacturers. We created designs for products, manufacturing groups figured out how to produce them, and we built them in our own factories.

Those days might as well be a million years ago. Now we are systems integrators. We create designs (or concepts we send to ODMs to flesh out), then hire companies to build components, assemble, ship and even service them.

The upshot is that we need a new skillset in this new world. Instead of design skills, we need partnership skills. Instead of building, we are buying. And instead of demanding or ordering, we are negotiating.

It's a much more uncertain world as a result. Outside parties don't necessarily see things our way, and we have limited tools to force them to see our point of view (read this recent Wall Street Journal article to learn more). Instead, we need to understand, to cajole, to threaten when necessary, but most of all to create scenarios where when our partners do what's in their interest, it helps us too.

As a result, I'm very interested in reading "Negotiation Genius" from Deepak Malhotra and Max Bazerman of Harvard Business School. I've discussed some of their work in a previous post. (And here's a recent reference in HBS Working Knowledge.) The book just came across my desk. I'll provide a full report after I'm finished with it.

(Photo from just4you via stock.xchng)