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Published: Nov 02 , 2017
Author: Tom Feinson

Recently Uber boss Travis Kalanick took an “indefinite leave of absence”. A phrase that coexists in the big book of signals next to “spending more time with the family” and just after “you have my 100% support”. True to form he has subsequently resigned. The question is why? If not how this...

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Published: Oct 12 , 2017
Author: Stephen White

At the time of writing – Wednesday afternoon 11th October 2017 – there is claimed to be confusion about the Declaration of Independence of Catalonia. The widespread global understanding is that the President of the Catalonian Parliament unilaterally declared independence last night, and immediately suspended it to enable mediation to take place. But apparently this understanding does not pertain in Madrid. This morning the Spanish Prime Minister...

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Published: Oct 05 , 2017
Author: Alan Smith

Just how do you listen to music these days? From the metal cylinder used to create the first recorded track, through vinyl, iPods and now the on-line streaming experience, music fans now have literally millions of tracks and songs available to listen to in hundreds of different ways. I know there has been something of a revival of vinyl, my daughter asked for a turntable for her 17th birthday. I had a temporary moment of cool when I retrieved a number of albums from the loft. Dark Side of the Moon was the first album I ever bought. Sadly, David Cassidy’s How Can I be Sure was my first single.

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Published: Aug 17 , 2017
Author: Robin Copland

Something interesting happened at the Athletics World Championships last week. Well, actually and to be fair, lots of interesting things happened. Mo Farah kept up his astonishing record by winning the Gold Medal in the 10000 metres. Sadly for him, he had to make do with a Silver in the 5000 metres race. Time finally caught up with Usain Bolt as he could only manage a Bronze Medal in the 100 metres and injury in the 4 x 100 metres relay during his last race. Justin Gatlin, who has been banned not once, but twice for using performance-enhancing drugs, won the 100 metre Gold Medal. 30 athletes and support staff fell victim to a suspected outbreak of norovirus...

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Published: Aug 10 , 2017
Author: Stephen White

As the rhetoric between America and North Korea ratchets up serious people have to ask the question ‘What if someone does something very silly and presses the red button?’. If you saw the 2015 TV movie War Book where a fictional role play re-enactment of this type of scenario (in the movie’s case a nuclear explosion in India instigated by Pakistan) with War Office/COBRA personnel trying to strategize as events take place you will know that the effect of such an incident will be devastating...

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Published: Aug 03 , 2017
Author: Robin Copland

The United Kingdom’s flagship carrier has been British Airways since the merger of British European Airways (BEA) and British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) in 1974. It has had a few ups and downs. In the 70s and early 80s, its reputation was patchy but from the mid-1980s for possibly the next ten to fifteen years, the airline became a genuine contender for the accolade “Best Airline in the World”. Indeed, one of its advertising straplines from the time was the “World’s Favourite Airline”.

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Published: Jul 20 , 2017
Author: Stephen White

Theresa May’s speech on Tuesday last week urging her political enemies to ‘contribute and not just criticise’ was met by a barrage of exactly the criticism she was asking them to eliminate. A Labour spokesperson said that it showed that the Conservatives had completely run out of ideas and were now reduced to begging, and the Scottish Nationalists line was that if she was serious about collaboration, particularly on Brexit, then she should have offered the SNP a seat at the Brexit negotiations, as they have been demanding for the last year.

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Published: Jul 06 , 2017
Author: Alan Smith

A couple of times over the last week I have been told by prospect clients, that whilst they suspect they get involved in negotiations, they are not quite sure if they are negotiating or not. It seemed to them that all they had to do was discover the optimal position that could be agreed by all parties and that would inevitably win the day. This struck me as both being a bit idealistic and also somewhat soft. The optimal position may indeed mean that I do not meet my, or my organisations best case. Worse still who decides what the optimal position is? Me, them or some arbitrary power?

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Published: Jun 29 , 2017
Author: Sebastian Bacewicz

When is a ‘generous offer’ not a generous offer? A few answers spring immediately to mind: for example, when a better offer is already on the table (yet - worryingly - completely ignored), or when the proposer feels the need to tell you that their offer is, indeed, very generous. I mean, if the offer is truly generous, why the need to tell you so? Surely, it will be clear for all to see? One may also argue that the "generous offer" is not really generous when it concerns the lives of a few million people and falls significantly short of what is expected both by the other side and the people in question.

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Published: Jun 22 , 2017
Author: Stephen White

In his excellent book Homo Deus Yuval Harari describes an experiment conducted by Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002. A group of volunteers were asked to take part in a ‘short’ experiment - they were to place one hand into a bowl of water at an exact 14C (cold enough to be quite unpleasant) for 60 seconds. The same group were also asked to take part in a ‘long’ experiment – to place their other hand in a bowl of water at 14C for 90 seconds. However, unknown to the volunteers, a small amount of warmer water was added to this bowl in the last 30 seconds which raised the temperature to a slightly warmer 15C. Some did the ‘short’ experiment first, others did the ‘long’ experiment first...

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Published: Jun 01 , 2017
Author: 

The dilemmas continue in Part 2: Do we make the first proposal or respond? Do we bluff or not? And how do we define a good deal?

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Published: Apr 27 , 2017
Author: Stephen White

In her most recent movie The Last Word Shirley McLaine plays a crabby old rich-woman control freak, founder of a successful advertising agency in her early years, now contemplating her demise. She commissions her own obituary needing to know what it will look like. But she has been a crabby control freak all her life; from her ex-husband to her estranged daughter and her scarred work colleagues and ‘friends’ no-one has a good word to say about her. So with the help of the obituary writer she embarks on a project to redeem her reputation with those who dislike her so much...

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Published: Mar 16 , 2017
Author: Stephen White

Dear Donald I am writing because you might have seen some scurrilous press speculation that the UK has decided to leave the European Union. FAKE NEWS!! The truth is that we have had a referendum and some subsequent discussions in Parliament which overwhelmingly demonstrated with certainty that the country is split as to whether to stay or go. 52% of the population want to leave, 48% want to stay, and 93% are undecided. Because this gives me a clear choice of mandates I am advising you that this letter is intended to trigger Article 50, which apparently enables us to leave unless we change our minds because we can’t agree a deal, or we agree a deal we don’t agree with, or because you have changed the constitution of the EU in the meantime.

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Published: Feb 02 , 2017
Author: Alan Smith

It has been an interesting few weeks for Theresa May. A bit of a Chinese curse that, to always live in interesting times. Firstly, she has had to deal with the new US president, where I find it hard to believe that Trump holds any attraction to her, no matter how opposite he is. Then there was the potential ban on Sir Mo Farah travelling to the US, averted by of all people, ex rival Boris Johnson.

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Published: Oct 14 , 2016
Author: Robin Copland

What do Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Pot Noodles, Persil, Dove soap and Marmite have in common? They are all made by Unilever. What does Unilever and Tesco have in common? Dave Lewis, Tesco’s current boss, spent most of his career at Unilever before being poached by Tesco. What does all of this have to do with negotiating? Well, having been in a stand-off that threatened to damage both parties, heads were banged together on Thursday 13 October and a deal was done. We at Scotwork have constantly maintained that external factors are the most common cause of the kinds of conflicts that need negotiated solutions and what happened between Tesco and Unilever is a classic example. External factors do not come much bigger than Brexit...

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Published: May 19 , 2016
Author: Alan Smith

Walk out the door? Maybe not quite as easy as you may think. The challenge for anyone in a long term relationship, business or pleasure, and particularly one experiencing difficulty is: do I invest in trying to fix it or cut my losses? Look at the massive challenge surrounding the Brexit campaign...

Published: Dec 18 , 2014
Author: The Scotwork Team

On Christmas Day 1914 the guns fell silent on no mans land. English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish Soldiers emerged from their trenches to meet the German enemy to shake hands and exchange gifts. Despite that only hours previously they had been involved in a vicious and unrelenting exchange of bullets, they engaged in an improvised and good humored football match on the battlefields, Germany V Great Britain. Germany it is rumored won 3 – 2. Did it happen? And why?...

Published: Feb 27 , 2014
Author: Stephen White

Our propensity to believe the unbelievable is enhanced by a world which is increasingly intrinsically unbelievable. I find myself gawping at the news on a daily basis. Facebook paid $19,000,000,000 for an App which employs only 55 people and doesn’t take advertising? Did your finger get stuck on the zero button? Candy Crush Saga, a moronically addictive computer game, has been downloaded more than half a billion times? You’re pulling my leg. ATMs already exist for a virtual currency which has existed for only 4 years, is prone to vast fluctuations in value, and is often used for money laundering? Surely not...

Published: Dec 19 , 2013
Author: Robin Copland

On the BBC news website in a move eerily reminiscent of Laura Ashley and John Lewis (see 28 March blog), it has been confirmed yesterday that department store Debenhams has told suppliers of its own brand products to cut their bills by 2.5% as a "contribution" to its investment plans”. It said it would deduct this from all outstanding payments on Tuesday night and would apply another discount of 2.5% to orders open on its system....

Published: Nov 07 , 2013
Author: Alan Smith

In many aspects of life one of the most important aspects is, wait for it, timing. A good gag, the perfect time to hit a volley, the lightest of soufflés, all require a mixture of patience, confidence and skill to get the best reaction from your audience, competitor or diners...

Published: Oct 03 , 2013
Author: Stephen White

Big business has been on the losing side of a number of small skirmishes recently. Two recent examples. Two days ago Tesco lost a planning application to open a supermarket in the town of Hadleigh, Suffolk after local businesses raised £80,000 to pay for top advisors to present their case. And yesterday the village of Tecoma 20 miles outside Melbourne Australia, hit the international news in their fight to stop McDonald's opening a local branch.

Published: Aug 15 , 2013
Author: Alan Smith

I want you to try a little experiment. Think of a simple tune. Something like Happy Birthday to You. (The most performed song in the English language, incidently). Now find a colleague, friend or partner and tap out the song for them without telling them the name of the song. Do it once. Then do it again. And now once more for luck....

Published: Aug 08 , 2013
Author: Robin Copland

Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport has, for the past month, played host to a pawn in the international diplomacy game, one Edward Snowden. Mr Snowden is a “whistle-blower” who, depending on your point of view, has courageously defended the rights of downtrodden untermensch the world over, or on the other hand has committed a treasonous offence so heinous as to be punishable by a lengthy spell behind bars – a spell so long that all kinds of keys may just as well be thrown down various drains...

Published: Jul 25 , 2013
Author: David Bannister

‘Of course!’ I hear you say, ‘lover of Mozart, GSOH, NS and follower of Yorkshire County cricket!’ That’s not what I meant, actually. I am wondering if there is a particular personality type who might make a more natural negotiator than other types do. I have to tell you that if you are compelled to read further, please do, but I am not going to give the answer to the question, because I don’t know it. I intend to try to find out, though...

Published: Jul 11 , 2013
Author: Robin Copland

As early as May this year, Lord Mandelson, the former business secretary and UK cabinet minister, warned that “a cabal at the top of the Labour national executive was trying to exert influence”, and that the Labour leader, Ed Miliband “was storing up danger for himself and for a future Labour government over parliamentary selections”. The row had blown up because Unite, the largest trade union in the UK, and in a move reminiscent of the Militant Tendency’s tactics in the 1970s and 80s, had quietly been infiltrating local labour constituency parties with their members by paying their membership fees en bloc. The union had specifically targeted seats where a selection was coming up...

Published: May 30 , 2013
Author: Alan Smith

I have been struck this week by the resolute nature by which an elderly lady in Wales has stood firm in the face of massive pressure from some of the UK’s largest companies, and just how difficult it is to engage when the other side are simply not interested. Bit of background....

Published: May 23 , 2013
Author: Alan Smith

There is no doubt that people are strange. You and especially me! A number of studies into social psychology in the 1960’s sought to look at how this strangeness affects the way we live our lives and conduct our affairs. In 1966 experimenters went door to door in a suburban neighborhood asking residents if they would agree to a huge advertisement reading, “drive safely” being erected in their garden. They were shown a picture of how it would look. Just so you know the photo showed a lovely home almost totally obscured by the billboard...

Published: Feb 07 , 2013
Author: Stephen White

The UK press this week has been obsessed with the story of Liberal Democrat MP and ex Cabinet Minister Chris Huhne who resigned his position after pleading guilty to a charge of Perverting the Course of Justice. For our international readers (UK readers can skip to the next paragraph) Huhne was caught by a speed camera in 2003, but his wife agreed to say that she was driving the car, and the speeding penalty points were allocated to her instead of him. As a result he didn’t lose his driving licence, although ironically just a few weeks later he did after being caught driving whilst talking on his mobile phone. In 2010, after press revelations that he was having an affair, his wife left him and in a fit of pique she told the police of the events seven years earlier. He was arrested, but strenuously denied the charge and used every legal device available to get the case dropped. He failed, and when the case came to court last Monday he finally admitted his guilt. The judge has indicated that he can expect a prison sentence...

Published: Nov 08 , 2012
Author: Alan Smith

My friend’s wife found out that her dog (a Schnauzer) could hardly hear, so she took it to the veterinarian. The vet found that the problem was excessive hair in the dog's ears. He cleaned both ears, and the dog could then hear fine. The vet then proceeded to tell the lady that, if she wanted to keep this from recurring, she should go to the store and get some "Nair" hair remover and rub it in the dog's ears once a month...

Published: Oct 19 , 2012
Author: Romana Henry

My 14 year old daughter's volleyball team received new strips from their supplier this season (shorts and short sleeved shirts). New style, new material, not cheap! After their first match, the girls were mortified at huge black patches of sweat appearing under their arms - apparent to all, even without raising their arms! They rushed to cover their new strips up in between their first and second match. They then all whinged and moaned incessantly. Nothing new there, but this time with a reason. No previous strip had ever met with any such complaints...

Published: Oct 12 , 2012
Author: Alan Smith

I read a fascinating report that suggested that for many consumers adding more features to products actually has the opposite effect that the producer intended. It actually devalues the product. A piece of research published in the Journal Of Consumer Research, suggests that consumers adopt an averaging approach when validating the value of a product or service...

Published: Sep 28 , 2012
Author: Robin Copland

There is more and more emphasis on the bottom line. Negotiators are getting ever more ruthless in their search for a “better deal” and sometimes the old “win-win” mantra is lost in the stampede. One of the tactics we see most often used by – and sometimes against – clients is the late introduction of a procurement specialist to a negotiation. In many cases, this person is introduced rather shamefacedly by the regular negotiator; the excuse is given that they are just there to cast a paternal eye over proceedings and check that the deal is watertight....

Published: Sep 14 , 2012
Author: David Bannister

"Put yourself in my shoes!" said trade union official who was role-playing to help some course participants practise their skills. I was reminded of this when, recently on holiday, I was reading a very enjoyable book called "The Bank of Dave". The book tells the story of a Lancastrian entrepreneur and millionaire called David Fishwick who decided that banks had all got rather too big for their boots and so he chose to open a bank of his own to service deposits and loans in his home town of Burnley (if you haven’t read it, it’s really good!)...

Published: Aug 31 , 2012
Author: Alan Smith

Virgin Trains aimed to shake up the railway business when it took over the West Coast mainline. Now, having lost the franchise to FirstGroup, are they tasting sour grapes or being genuine in their belief that FirstGroup are unable to deliver on their pitch?

Published: Aug 24 , 2012
Author: Alan Smith

When my kids were much younger we had a standard gag. I would ask them what time is it when an elephant sits on your fence? The answer was clearly time to get a new fence. Timing is indeed everything. A similar question could be asked right now with the World’s biggest sporting event still receiving plaudits from around the Globe (except of course the French), as perhaps the best ever Olympic games...

Published: Aug 10 , 2012
Author: David Bannister

Some years ago, I was teaching a management course in the Far East. My words were to be consecutively interpreted to the class so I had to send all my material for translation in advance. One of the exercises I used was a version of the ‘Prisoner’s Dilemma’, a game where the participants’ integrity is challenged and where they can be tempted to try to gain advantage over other participants by saying one thing and then doing something else to ‘win’ the game...

Published: Aug 03 , 2012
Author: Sam Macbeth

I’ve enjoyed watching the Olympics this week. I have also found the debate that has raged about the number of empty seats to be interesting as well. Disgruntled members of the public had tried and failed on several occasions to buy tickets – only to see that there have been numerous empty seats in the stadia during the first week of the Games. Several commentators have complained that LOCOG (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) have had “seven years to avoid this situation”.

Published: Jul 27 , 2012
Author: Alan Smith

There is no doubt that much of what we learn is from experience. In fact the university of life, with all of its hard knocks, creates valuable lessons. The key is do we adjust our behaviour on the back of what is thrown at us. This week I have been running a couple of training courses in Bangkok. My first trip to the area, and I heartily recommend it. Great food, wonderful weather (at least the rain here is warm) and the people are friendly and generous hosts. For the westerner in this part of the world another attraction is the markets...

Published: Jul 20 , 2012
Author: Stephen White

There is a sweet story about an elderly man who is woken at 3.00am by his wife, who can hear strange noises outside the house. He opens the bedroom curtains and sees robbers stealing some of his stuff from the shed at the bottom of the garden. He calls the emergency line, explains what he can see, and asks for police assistance immediately. ‘Are they actually in your house?’ asks the operator. ‘No’, he says, ‘I’ve told you. They are in the shed at the bottom of the garden’. ‘We don’t have anyone available at the moment,’ says the operator ‘but we will send someone along within 2 hours’....

Published: Jul 06 , 2012
Author: Alan Smith

I know I am getting on but it used to be that along with the doctor and the local bobby, the bank manager was one of the few people in whom you could put your faith that he would do the right thing. He would sign your passport photos, offer sage words of solid advice about the mortgage and generally be seen to be one of the go-to guys when you really needed it. Not any more...

Published: Jun 22 , 2012
Author: Noel Penrose

This weeks BLOG is provided by one of the many Scotwork Alumni, Noel Penrose. If you would like to submit a BLOG for consideration please send it to info@scotwork.com. Thanks Noel. I bought a house a while ago. It involved the usual mix of practical and emotional decision-making, hand-wringing, uncertainty and hope that major purchases like this bring on. It took three months from start to finish, which seems like a reasonable timeframe. What made it a very interesting experience was the way the negotiation was conducted....

Published: Nov 04 , 2011
Author: Alan Smith

I have to declare a lack of interest here. The last time I placed a bet on a horse race was 1977 when I picked Red Rum to win the Grand National, which it did for a record 3rd time. I have no idea about racing and have no intention of finding a passion for it. But I was intrigued by the row between the Jockey Club, the British Horseracing Authority and the World Horse Welfare group that seems to have settled to a simmer last week when new rules were introduced that allowed all sides to walk away with their heads held high...

Published: Oct 21 , 2011
Author: Alan Smith

If, like me, you have been following the rugby world cup finals, you will have spent the last few weekends glued to the TV at an ungodly hour watching the world’s best teams knock the hell out of each other in an attempt to lift the greatest prize in Rugby, the Webb Ellis trophy. If also like me you are a supporter of the England team you will also be familiar with the phrase ‘win ugly’. The phrase comes from Brad Gilbert, previously a mediocre tennis professional, who won ugly by disrupting his opponents using a variety of techniques from gamesmanship to relentless targeting the opponents weaknesses. Gilbert famously became the coach of Agassi and Sampras and helped them gain the psychological advantage in their game.

Published: Oct 14 , 2011
Author: Robin Copland

Moses. Lad! Hill walker; leader of men; stone carrier and, when it came to water, he surpassed even his own ambitious targets. Had he been born in Scotland in the twentieth century, he would have been a natural hydro-electric engineer. He would have found the twenty-first century quite interesting as well as we Scots have an Eleventh commandment to add to his original Ten. Thirty one per cent of our energy needs will be supplied by renewable resources in 2011 and 100% is the target by 2020. This has led to a huge wind turbine building programme all around the country...

Published: Oct 07 , 2011
Author: Alan Smith

An elderly couple, grumpily married for over 30 years, decide to have a week apart for the first time in their long suffering marriage. The wife travels to see her sister, leaving her curmudgeonly (great word, look it up) husband in charge of the house and much loved cat. Having arrived at her sister’s home, the wife calls her husband to let him know that she has arrived and to check that everything is OK back home...

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Published: Aug 11 , 2010
Author: Robin Copland

Astronomers still hear the echoes of the “Big Bang” when they point their radio telescopes to the furthest reaches of the galaxy. Students of negotiation have their own equivalent here in the UK – it’s a kind of a low burbling noise that, every so often, geysers into life with some new announcement, tweet, public utterance or strike. It is, of course, the ongoing dispute between British Airways and the members of its cabin crew represented by the trade union UNITE, a damaging dispute that...

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DUPed

Two’s company; 27’s a crowd. It may be tricky negotiating with a single party, but when there are 27 divergent interests on the other side of the table it becomes even harder. That is just part of the challenge that the UK Government has in their Brexit negotiations. In most negotiations the negotiator is not negotiating for their own benefit; they almost always represent a coalition of interests. If that coalition is united in its mandate to the negotiator, then she or he may have very little room to manoeuvre. Any concession beyond the mandate will have to go back to the coalition for approval. However, if there is disunity amongst the coalition then the negotiator’s ability to make a deal is fatally flawed...

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