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Stuck In A Negotiation Rut

September 21, 2011

Contracts professionals and lawyers have grasped the concept of agility and flexibility. They all embrace the fact that we need more of it (though mostly from the other side!) But in reality we are stuck in traditional thinking.

We asked IACCM members whether flexibility and greater agility in contracting are important. Almost 90% said yes and that their management is seeking better answers to traditional contracting issues. So what do we then focus on? This Wordle chart is a great representation of the current areas of contention in negotiation and reveals the focus of our thinking. This illustrates why we are stuck having the same unproductive discussions. Unless we break free of considering flexibility only in the traditional areas of contention, we will make no progress.

Tomorrow I will suggest how we might change the conversation – and please share your ideas and experiences.

  1. Dick Locke permalink

    Did anyone else not get the Wordle chart? Looks intriguing. Tim, maybe you can include the chart with the next post?

  2. My biggest critique of negotiations is people that try to convince the other side why they are right and use variations of the same point to do so. People rarely listen to a well-reasoned argument and suddenly change their opinion, and therefore the resulting conversation is quite unproductive. It takes quite a bit of mental agility to work around that…a skill that most people simply do not have. Those that do, have practiced it and have a certain mental discipline about them. Good post.

  3. John Tracy permalink

    Tim, For years I’ve seen a constant disconnect in companies between the terms they sell under versus the terms they want to buy under. That disconnect, especially on the buying side, adds a lot of additional work and complications in those negotiations. It can have you negotiating for things that may not be necessary, especially if you aren’t assuming those risks with your customers. To be more flexible on the buying side groups should do an analysis of their terms and requirement. When there is an incremental difference between the terms you sell on, you need to identify real value those requirements may be providing. Secondly companies should always look at whether risks are best protected on the sales agreements or product specifications versus its procurement terms. I’ve had too many things get dumped on the procurement side that should have been managed on the sales side to be effective, What happens then is rather than not assume the risk in the first place, companies try to pass the risks on the the suppliers making those negotiations more complex and many times not successful. If you ever dealt with high risk use, you would know what I mean by the comment.

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