Executives are increasingly faced with the task of negotiations in a realm that many know little about: technology.
Whether you’re bargaining over the purchase of a company-wide network, coping with the possible infringement of patented technology, or seeking better customer service from a software supplier, technology negotiations have become a fact of managerial life.
How do such negotiations differ from those that are less technologically complex?
You can anticipate four specific problems to crop up more often in the technology arena:
Negotiations over new technology require sophisticated knowledge of hardware or software that’s beyond the scope of most managers. If those trained in science and technology assume the others at the table are speaking their language, serious misunderstandings can result.
When highly complex systems are at stake, no one can be sure whether they will perform as promised when configured for a particular business environment. Different estimates of how a technology will perform can lead to negotiation battles.
Those who design or advocate for a new technology often become additional players when they have a vested interest in the outcomes of a negotiation. Technology advocates – and their egos – can complicate otherwise straightforward talks.
4. Organizational Change
The various organizational changes required by negotiated agreements can provoke conflict between parties during implementation. Staffers may have trouble maintaining or repairing new technology, accessing its intellectual underpinnings, or acquiring replacement parts.
Negotiators embroiled in high-tech deals must take purposeful steps to avoid these pitfalls. Through our executive training, we have identified three ways of sidestepping these difficulties:
- Avoid communication errors and build trust
- Manage complexity and uncertainty
- Prepare for strategic realignment
Do you prefer technology negotiations over traditional negotiations? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.
Adapted from “What’s Special About Technology Negotiations” by Lawrence Susskind in the May 2006 issue of the Negotiation newsletter.