Thoughts on ITA General Session – Negotiation

Over the next few weeks I will be posting my thoughts from sessions that I attended at the Information Technology Alliance’s Fall Collaborative (<—I love that word) held in Palm Springs.

In the first session entitled Negotiating: The critical skill for success in a soft economy, Jack Kaine delivered an excellent presentation including some of the following good thoughts:

  • Bargaining is about who is right; negotiation is about what is right.
  • Win-win is about mutual gain, which is not to be confused with equal gain.
  • Bargaining presupposes a zero-sum game like poker; negotiation presupposes the ability to grow the pot beyond what is at the table.
  • The sooner you quote price the lower it will be and be proud of your pricing!
  • When you lower your price unilaterally you are saying you are a commodity.
  • Do not bargain with yourself! Discounting indicates a lack of self-esteem.
  • Saying something is "fair and reasonable" is a subtle way of calling the other party, "unfair and unreasonable."

“Not for the Sake of Ambition” – Oh, Please!

One parenthetical phrase from President Barack Obama’s eulogy for Ted Kennedy made me cringe – “Not for the sake of ambition or vanity; not for wealth or power; but only for the people and the country that he loved.”

I write this not as a criticism of the President or the deceased Senator, but of the attitude it conveys. First, it is blatantly false. No one without any ambition runs for the Senate or Presidency. Second, it raises an idea that I find disturbing, namely that political or governmental service is somehow more noble than economic service.

This idea is a derivative of zero-sum thinking about wealth. It encapsulates the idea that those in business are somehow stealing wealth from others and that those in government are there to prevent any massive accumulation of wealth by one person or a small group of people. What they miss is that while governments do not create wealth, businesses and individual do. Governments are instituted to allow for wealth to be created by protecting those that create it from the masses who would try to take it from them.

In short, they have hopelessly and irrevocable confused cause and effect.