REAL-WORLD INSIGHTS

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Published: Nov 08 , 2018
Author: David Bannister

I wonder if, like me, you have recently followed the story of a shoplifter who stole a tray of cans of beer from a supermarket. This was no ordinary shoplifter, he looked like the actor David Schwimmer and his CCTV photograph was shown widely in the media. David Schwimmer showed his sense of humour by posting his own photograph on social media showing him clutching a similar looking tray of beers and taking a furtive look at a shop camera. This reminded me of...

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Published: Aug 09 , 2018
Author: Robin Copland

Negotiators don’t necessarily derive their power from the relative size of their organisations. In fact, many negotiators fall into the trap of being scared by a seemingly “bigger” opponent on the other side and end up striking deals that belie their significance to the other side. As I have written before, these deals can be commercially ruinous. In fact, they derive their power from the incentives and sanctions that they have at their disposal. The problem that negotiators face when deploying their power, exerting their leverage as I once heard it described, is that some incentives seem relatively indivisible. They have one enormous “chunk” of a concession and then it’s over to threats and counter-threats – never a place where nice people like to be!

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Published: Apr 12 , 2018
Author: Robin Copland

Regular readers may recall the story I told about pitching up at a hotel with my wife and young family in tow and admitting my desperation to them; I needed a bedroom and I needed it badly. My subsequent request for a discount fell on deaf ears – the words “desperate” and “good deal” rarely appear in the same sentence. My colleague,...

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Published: Mar 22 , 2018
Author: Robin Copland

So, there I was in the hotel lobby telling the team behind the desk all my woes. This was about the fourth hotel I had been to; no, I didn’t have a booking but I had my wife and three children outside in the car and I was kind of desperate; no, I didn’t know that there was a major conference in the town that we were visiting and yes, had I known about it, then I would probably have either avoided the place altogether or, at the very least, booked a family room. “Oh, you have...

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Published: Jan 11 , 2018
Author: Alan Smith

Sunseeker? I wish. So we are at the start of the year! Spent too much over Christmas? Eaten too much?...

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Published: Jun 15 , 2017
Author: Alan Smith

Going in to negotiate with a party way bigger and in theory more powerful than you, can be a daunting experience. But before you hop onto the back foot and cower into the meeting, have a think about resetting your internal clock by thoughtfully estimating the power that you have, the source of this power and the way you use that power in the negotiation...

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Published: Mar 09 , 2017
Author: Stephen White

In the world of internet start-ups and disruptive technology the valuations placed on popular new entrants into a market continue to be completely out of whack with their profitability, as they were in the dot.com boom and bust 20 years ago. Companies with a market valuation of $1 billion or more, known as tech unicorns, include Snap Inc. the owners of Snapchat, Airbnb, and Uber. Snapchat is currently valued at between $25-35 billion. But it has never made a profit and its net worth, assets less liabilities, is only $1.5 billion. Airbnb has a market value of around $30 billion, about $7 billion more than physical competitor Hilton, but turned in its first profit only in the second half of 2016. And Uber, currently valued at between $60 -70 billion, made a $3 billion loss last year according to Bloomberg...

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Published: Feb 18 , 2016
Author: Robin Copland

It’s not that David Cameron does not have his troubles to seek as he shuttles around Europe trying to secure support for a modified agreement with the UK’s fellow European Union member states, but I bet you he wishes he had not been quite so cavalier as to promise an “in-out referendum” in the period leading up to the 2015 UK general election. Politically, he felt that he had to do it to give some kind of sop to the so-called “Euro-sceptic” wing of the Conservative Party and to prevent further haemorrhaging of potential supporters to UKIP...

Published: Nov 12 , 2015
Author: David Bannister

I wrote in this blog about three weeks ago about the commitment given by the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, to write to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, setting out the demands which the UK would make in its negotiations with the EU prior to a referendum of the British people some time before the end of 2017 which will decide if the UK remains a member of the EU. My blog concerned a draft letter published in the Daily Telegraph, one of our more serious newspapers, written by Eurosceptic MEP, Daniel Hannan. On 10 November, Mr Cameron wrote the letter to Donald Tusk anticipated by Hannan and published its contents. In brief summary they are:

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Published: Oct 15 , 2015
Author: Tom Feinson

Tesco’s travails over the last few months are many and varied. Recently they topped a grocers code adjudicator list for supplier complaints an in a recent survey only Iceland received a lower score from its suppliers, it must be cold there. For those that operate in this environment I imagine that this comes as no surprise and to be honest in my experience Tesco are not markedly worse than any of the Big 4. They all appear to operate on the basis that they have all the power and they can break and fix supplier relationships at will but is the worm turning?

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Published: Oct 01 , 2015
Author: John McMillan

A story in the British press reads that oilfield services provider Halliburton has made an offer to swallow rival Baker Hughes for $35 billion; Schlumberger has weighed in on equipment maker Cameron International in a $14.8 billion deal. Companies that specialise in one part of the services market, for example offshore drilling, are in a difficult situation and are finding themselves squeezed by their customers to such an extent that, in order to survive, they are having to accept takeover deals from bigger rivals or risk going out of business; takeover deals that would not have been countenanced 18 months ago are suddenly now acceptable – even welcome...

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Published: May 14 , 2015
Author: Stephen White

The recent Argentinian film ‘Wild Tales’ is a compilation of six unrelated fictions about people in desperate situations. I would recommend it to anyone who likes entertaining storytelling, but one of the segments has particular interest for negotiators. The plot revolves around the wealthy father of a wayward teenager who takes the family BMW out for the night, gets drunk, and collides with a pregnant pedestrian in a hit-and-run incident. Mother and unborn child don’t survive. The teenager confesses to his parents, and the father together with the family lawyer hatch a plan. The gardener, a retainer of many years standing, is invited to take the rap by claiming to be the driver, and serve the prison sentence (expected to be an unrealistic 18 months) in return for $500,000, a sum beyond his dreams...

Published: Jun 26 , 2014
Author: Robin Copland

When companies get good at providing a service, it becomes convenient to put more and more business their way. They provide an efficient route to market; they give suppliers the chance to make one big delivery instead of four or five smaller ones; their marketing campaigns are slick and entice more customers through their – sometimes electronic – doors. From the consumers’ perspective, they provide a glitzy, one-stop-shop service that saves time, trouble and hassle. Eventually, they inhabit large green- or brown-field sites on the edges of great conurbations, with lots of parking and the odd ancillary service provided to make the whole retail experience that bit more bearable...

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: 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’....

Latest Blog:

Break In

On August 30th, mid-evening, our home was broken into. We were away overnight. Fortunately, we had recently installed a video doorbell which alerted me about the activity via my mobile phone, and which recorded footage of the offender trying to jimmy open the front door, failing, and then disappearing around the back of the house. He climbed onto...

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