Monthly Archives: December 2013

The World Lost a Light in 2013

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Angela WallaceOne of our favorite clients passed away in November. Angela Wallace suddenly developed an infection in her brain and the world lost a bit of light. She will be missed. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Angela’s family and friends.

Angela was a long time proud member of the National Association of Professional Organizers. She served as NAPO’s national President from 2011 – 2013. It was Angela who knew to consider global trends when we were helping NAPO with its strategic planning. A selfless leader, Angela was an advocate for every category of member.

I always admired how Angela brought out the best in people. She encouraged others to grow and got a kick out of seeing other NAPO members shine. She was a mentor who built confidence and encouraged continuous learning.

Angela was one of those people who could imagine a better future without criticizing what currently exists.

The world will be better if we can all channel our “inner Angela.”

Alternate Between Divergent and Convergent Thinking When Negotiating Deals

Divergent ThinkingYou have been considering your options, running scenarios, and have come up with what you think is a great idea. But your idea can’t possibly be in another person’s budget or plan. You just came up with it. Both parties usually don’t think of a possible deal or new working relationship at the same time. It’s human nature (and more so these days) for a person to be inclined to say “no” if a deal wasn’t his/her idea. So, the first step in deal negotiation is to help other people open up, get caught up, and not feel rushed. If you push to sell your conclusion, you are very likely to prompt a negative response.

It can help to alternate between divergent and convergent thinking when discussing new working relationships or deals. Once you think you have discovered a good option take a step back and start your discussion with the other party with the premise that there could well be ways that the two of you could work together that would be mutually beneficial. That way, the first discussion is exploratory and expansive (divergent). Together, you generate multiple ideas and approaches.

The operative word here is “together.”

The second time you meet, you can shrink the options down to 3-4 that have merit, which is convergent thinking. Together, you can divide up the “homework” to be done. One of you may research the joint venture option. The other may spell out how money would flow if it should be a strategic alliance instead. Or, one of you might clarify how a partnership might work while the other thinks through how a loan could be executed without a partnership involved.

The operative word here again is “together.”

Deals often fall apart in the early stages because one person was too focused on a single conclusion or only one side is doing due diligence. Deals also fall apart when one participant reveals worries or focuses on possible problems way too early in the process.

If there is consensus on a possible mutually beneficial approach, the third meeting can be dedicated to how to prevent problems, minimize barriers to success, address worries, etc. Aired before concept consensus, those concerns just sound like fretting. Divergent thinking is involved when listing what could go wrong and what might be needed to address issues.

The fourth meeting is the most important in most deals. What will each entity actually commit to doing? Who else will be needed in order for the concept to pay off? What is the best timeframe? What ROI is reasonable for both? Is there a fallback or contingency plan?

In my opinion, lawyers should not be involved in deal discussions until the fifth meeting. Their role is adversarial by definition and certainly feels divergent. Business leaders need to know what they want and be centered, so they can provide clear directions to the attorneys. Life is good when attorneys are asked to explore a concept’s viability versus identifying all the ways it may not work.

The sixth meeting is sometimes referred to as the “champagne meeting”. Together, agreements are signed. The launch is rehearsed. Key people who will make the concept pay off are present.

Again, the operative word is “together.”

Do Some Homework Before Expanding into “THE CITY”

New York City

Recently, I was visiting with a family from Vietnam. They were convinced they knew what America is like because they had visited New York City. To me, that is like saying you have a sense of Mongolia because you once visited Beijing.

A few of our growth strategy and executive search clients have their eyes (and hearts?) set on expansion into Manhattan. One is headquartered in NE Pennsylvania. The other is in Princeton, New Jersey. They are both very very good at what they do. NYC is enticing. We “get it”, but when we started to run some cost projections that included multiple team members, office space and increased out of pocket allocations for dining & entertainment, ground transportation & parking and gifts & donations both clients seemed a bit taken aback. The truth is some cities like NYC, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Rio de Janeiro, Monte Carlo and Dubai are more like separate countries than cities. Despite the value of new technology, you still just can’t phone (or Skype) it in.

Perhaps you have seen the tongue-in-cheek posters of “Manhattan’s View of the World” that include clear images of individual buildings in Manhattan, a blur of images for boroughs like Brooklyn & Queens, and just curved words for LONG ISLAND, NEW JERSEY & CONNECTICUT. The poster’s images jump fairly quickly to FLORIDA and CALIFORNIA. You would never know that the United States includes places like IOWA, ALABAMA or WYOMING.

Those posters are correct. How many people just say “I’m going into THE CITY” when referring to Manhattan? A LOT! Go ahead and try to ask a Manhattan-based person to come meet you for lunch in a great restaurant in Jersey City! Right!!!

Companies, like Welocalize, Inc., have become increasingly important as more businesses seek globalization. Expansion is not just about geographic distance. Many times, it is more about culture and a capacity to relate to the people involved. Welocalize provides valuable research about local cultures, customs, purchasing patterns, neighborhoods, community leaders, sensitivities, etc. We have concluded that just as much research and thought is needed to expand into NYC as when a firm expands from Princeton into Frankfurt, Sydney, or Shanghai.

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