Thursday, May 31, 2007

Position based Vs Interest based Negotiation

It is interesting to note that negotiation is a life skill which all of us practice which we do not attach much science to. Since the day we were born we've been negotiating and mind you we've been good at that. We learned craft when we want mother's milk and subsequently we mastered it where we use accomplish many things by simply crying for things.

A typical negotiation ends up on most occasions with a win loose situation. Each party "come to the table" with their own position. That sets the tone for the rest of the activity where in dog eat dog world each party tries to overwhelm the other. Rationale is simple. If I walk away with anything less from my original position I have lost something. I have compromised. So let me do what ever within my power to either defend my position at a minimum or may be get more than I want. Obviously this leads to win loose situation. Those who give in most will loose while those who gain will win. Position based negotiations on most occasions become personal matters. Let me share with you the story of the genie,

Once upon a time there was this man who was walking in the beach where he came across a different bottle. For curiosity the man opened up the lid and out came the 'genie'. After thanking the man genie volunteered provide the man with anything he wants as a gesture of goodwill. However it said that what ever the wish the man is granted with the neighbour will get double of that. First the man wanted a mountain of gold and then he realised his neighbour will get double of that amount. So he gave up the idea. Then he was thinking of a place for him to live but the idea of his neighbour having two he could not live with. He racked his brain profusely and finally said to the genie, "OK , take one eye of mine".

Sometimes the competition we have is against someone else for no reason. Who cares what your neighbour gets if you are way better off than you are. Whilst it is obvious when confronted with the situation our competitive nature tends to take over common sense.

Compromise is another popular misconception. There is a school of thought that both parties needs to compromise to arrive at a workable solution or a win win situation. But in actual terms a compromise leads to a loss of something either one party or both parties have originally wanted. Thus it is not a win win situation.

Better way of negotiating is the interest based. Rather than holding on to positions if you ask the question "why" you are at that position parties have the opportunity to transcend in to another level from where they are. The best way to mov from position based negotiation in to interest based negotiation is by asking the question why?
For example let us consider a scenario of two children a mother and an orange. The two girls were arguing that want the same orange. The positions are fairly clear. Each party wants the organge and they would go all out trying to get that. However as story goes mother decided to cut orange in half give both children. Ince she did this both girls went to the kitchen and one girl made juice out of the pulp and drank and threw away the peel while the other girl took the peel from her half and used it for marmaleade while trwoing away the pulp. At that point the mother realised had she asked why she could have made two oranges out of one and allowed each daughter to have a "complete" orange!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Stamp your own team identity in an Eco System

When you are part of a large oraganization one tends to climatise accordingly. While agreeing that you need to adapt to the culture, it is not the case all the time.

Today we celebrated the b'day of one of our team members, and true to the style we made a big buzz about it. We had to take little bit of our precious office time to blow the baloons, decorate etc. Another one of our colleagues in the same premises only few desks away (not part of our team) also celebrated her b'day. However there was no such do's around that table. While there were no comments made yet, it reminded me about a previous experience.

For Christmas my team wanted to decorate the place where we are seated so I gave the go ahead for decorations. After all it was the spirit of season they wanted to celebrate! However there was an obvious mismatch once our area ONLY was decorated. there were certain comments about us being fairly selfish, self celebratory etc. While I was little uncomfortable at the outset I just realised this is our team culture and it is this that keeps us going as unit. While we are part and parcel of the larger company culture such activities should not be discouraged as it straighten our own unit.

Well for my own b'day there was lot of noise made by my team to the extent even I felt very embarrassed. Subsequently I realised that I'm blessed to have a bunch of "energetic" people to lead.

So I think while such activities my shake up the eco system a bit, still it's good stamp your own class since you have the opportunity of both setting trends and doing whats best to keep your team going.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Office Game - Part II

Moving forward from where I left,(read COACHING.....THE OFFICE GAME) similar to a coach a manager too needs to deal with different types of team members. Probably certain managers will have to lead much larger teams than most coaches do ever in their careers. However to me the fundamentals remain the same.
A common expectation of a coach is to assist players iron out their technical deficiencies and to be technically correct. According to cambridge dictionary "a coach is someone whose job is to teach people to improve at a sport, skill, or school subject". For instance in cricket the coaches use to work with players on different aspects of the game such as batting, bowling, fielding etc. They work out game plans, keep players fit and strong with scheduled practices etc. Similarly in the game of basket ball the coaches work on different aspect of your game from shooting to dribbling and to going on the offence to your defence. This is the case in almost in all the sports.
However another aspect of coaching has emerged since of late in the sporting arena. That to me has made a profound impact on sports than the fundamental definition of the coach. Take for instance some of recent comments made by Mahela Jayawardene of Sri Lanka about Tom Moody. According to MJ, "Moody brought in something special to us. He made us stretch our selves in to limits which we never thought was possible. He challenged me, he challanged everyone including all the senior players and that helped us to raise our game" The likes of ponting echoed similar sentiments about John Bucanon the Australian coach.
I beleieve this ability to work on players mental aspect is what really differentiated boys from real men. (Like Jim Collins says Good to Great, where good is the enemy of great).The likes of Pete Sampras arguably one of the greatest players in the history of tennis use to talk about the impact of approaching each grandslam final together with the coach. The coach brought about relevant mental platform in to each game. (Infact he won a record 14 grandslam titles in his career).
So what's the similarity with the corporate environment? To start with a manager's role is very much similar. While he is there to iron out and rectify any technical defeciencies of any surbordinate he has a much bigger role to play o the mental side of the person. Similar to the coach working with each player to raise their game everytime and raise the bar as a team a manager too needs to identify competencies of each individual and work on growing him beyond his current role. Different strokes for different folks!
Many a times managers make the cardinal mistake of a task based relationship. However I feel to be a successful manager one needs to work with the individual to stretch him to that individual's capacity limits. Assignments will certainly be a part of it. How many of the manager's work on growing on the mental side of an surbordinate to prepare him for much bigger challenges. Mostly managers are only short term results driven.
Like every great coach a manager needs to learn to work on the background. It is the team players who needs to get highlighted! Well none of you will know who was h coach of Pete Sampras or for that matter it is the Ponting's, Jayasuriya's and Tendulkar's who are in the lime light and not their coaches.
Afterall they know they become much soughtafter after every assignment. And that's how they grow in their roles!

Coaching..... The Office Game - Part I

Coaching..... The Office Game

The outgoing Australian coach John Bucanan turned down several cricket coaching assignments among them a high profile assignement from India and he said he wish to move in to a mentor role next. He specifically talked about coaching in the coporate circles. Surely, having seen what he has done with a high performing team like Australia from it's dominant position where it was to what it is today where they have raised their game in to levels un imaginable, he'll be a cracker coach in demand no doubt!
It's interesting to note that most of the people in the corporate sector who are performing managerial or team leading roles are expected to do more or less the same. It's common to see most corporates having "annual appraisals" and some of the others are having "mid year reviews" adding to that. At many places that seems to be a very formal process. All of a sudden superiors are talking about how people performed during the year under review and more often than not they also discuss 'one off' career progression plans.
One tends to wonder whether this should be the case. GE's Jack Welch in his book winning talks about two page written summaries for his direct reports which list down goals for the previous year, a candid feedback on the performce, and objectives for the coming year and they discuss gaps if any. However that document is closely monitored many times during the course of the year and candid is the key word for regular feedback sessions. That seems to have worked very well during his tenure looking at pipeline of leader's they produced and continue to produce.
Interestingly I think we can all learn a lot from Sports and specially from cricket. A cricket coach's role could be wide and varied. He's a mentor, he's a guide, he teaches where required and he puts his foot down above all for the betterment of both the individual and the side.
A typical cricket squad which comes under the purview of a coach is very similar a team under a normal manger at office. To start with a squad will have seasoned campigners, the senior players the likes of Mc Grath's, Mahela's and Jayasuriya's. Then they'll have to deal with larger than life demi god figures like the Ponting's, Tendulkar's and Lara's. Not to forget the likes of Sangakkara's and Flemin's who read the game so well. Then they'll have to work with budding players, semi sesoned ones etc. Now, isn't that similar to what most of us encounter in the office environment?It sure is, and in some of the future postings let's examine how best we could transform cricketing knowledge in to 'office field'.