The Negotiator Magazine

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I guess I should also give an example of the consequences of a lack of negotiating at a high management level. Some years ago, the CEO of Air Berlin, Joachim Hunold, was about to place a very large order for 737's. He expected Boeing to negotiate the price with him. Instead, Boeing ignored his request to negotiate the final cost per plane. As a result of Boeing's seeming unwillingness to negotiate, Mr. Hunold flew to Airbus' headquarters in Toulouse, France and had lunch with the company's executives. Afterwards, they shook hands on a $7 billion dollar order for 110 single-aisle airplanes.

Afterwards, Boeing was in a state of shock because they never thought Mr. Hunold would do that. The company made the mistake of "taking a customer for granted" and not with negotiating them. The order from Air Berlin was a blessing to Airbus, because after four years of losing ground to Boeing, the order made up some ground and also woke up Boeing from their slumber to realize there were serious competitors in the commercial aircraft business.

There are so many areas in which senior executives must negotiate in order to successfully fulfill their management duties, let me list and discuss just one more to reinforce the point. Let us look at one internal management area that I believe is of major importance: the negotiation and management of staff meetings.

In order to negotiate staff meetings more effectively, I recommend the following:

1.) Begin with a clear statement of the importance of the meeting

Whoever has called the meeting should not use parables in the description of why the meeting is being conducted. I once attended a meeting in which the executive simply started it by saying, "I don't know about the rest of you, but if this company doesn't get its [expletive deleted],' I'm going to have difficulty in making my monthly mortgage payment." The importance and/or urgency of the meeting should be clearly announced at the beginning so none has any doubts of its importance.

2.) Create an informal atmosphere

Create an informal atmosphere in which humor will prevail and not a serious atmosphere in which those attending are fearful of thinking or saying something unusual, strange or funny. Humor is a very important element in creativity. And the stage for such informality may be established by the one that called the meeting ... a bit of humor at the beginning of the meeting may plant the seed for some great thoughts, concepts and ideas.

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August 2005