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Commercial staff and objectivity

March 25, 2014

Many will recall the prolonged debates over whether or not Chinese technology firms Huawei and ZTEĀ could be trusted. The US Senate blacklisted both.

Since then, it has become known that US intelligence services were all the time hacking into Huawei’s headquarter servers and monitoring communications between its executives. The US activities were, of course, undertaken with the best of intentions, whereas those alleged by Huawei (and the Chinese Government) were ‘bad’.

These events reminded me of a blog that I wrote nearly 3 years ago regarding our dual standards when dealing and contracting with China. Indeed, we run the risk on most occasions of allowing perceptions and half-truths to drive our thinking and, as a result, influence our approach to negotiation or the way we manage a relationship.

An excellent contract or commercial manager must always aim for objectivity, which means exploring and understanding stakeholder perspectives and seeking to establish truth. It is often our role to get facts on the table, to mediate between parties with opposing views, to create an environment of respect and trust. And that often demands that we look behind the headlines and the entrenched views of our particular company, industry or culture. We must be ready to ask uncomfortable questions, rather than assume our side is intrinsically ‘good’.

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