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Innovation is not everything

Companies often engage in quick fixes in a bid to be seen as innovative. While this may bring in short-term value, failing to focus on the long term could erode their most valuable moat—the brand. Hap Klopp explains why a brand’s story is not just about its logo or taglines. It is the combined accumulated impact of every aspect of the business, authoritatively unified under imaginative but single-minded direction.

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Beyond the blame game

In an article in The Guardian, Stephen Hawking wrote, “The automation of factories has already decimated jobs in traditional manufacturing, and the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend this job destruction deep into the middle classes, with only the most caring, creative, or supervisory roles remaining.”* Here, the author holds a slightly contrarian view, explaining how AI would create more jobs, than rather eliminate them, and why human insight would remain crucial to success.

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Building invicible brands

The average selling price of an iPhone is $500 more than the pricing for its chief competitor Samsung, according to research by Canaccord Genuity, making Apple earn over 90 per cent of the profits in the smartphone category and rack up a cash hoard on its balance sheet.*

What makes customers choose a product over others despite its high price? It is, in most of the cases, directly influenced by the brand’s thorough understanding of the customers’ changing preferences

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Customers as a moat

The idea of the ‘economic moat’ is a tempting one. What senior management team would not like to have a foolproof set of defences, a source of competitive advantage so strong as to make the company invulnerable to competition? Everyone is looking for their moat. The problem is, most of us are looking in the wrong places.

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Diversity matters

The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument identifies five types of bargaining styles—competing, collaborative, compromising, avoiding, and accommodating—based on different personality types. Likewise, stakeholders could have different buying styles too; customize your communication strategy while negotiating with them.

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Why do negotiations fail?

A cursory glance at any daily publication throws up news of umpteen ‘negotiations’ going on in the social, geopolitical, and business spheres. But not many lead to positive results for either player because often people plunge into it without exercising any degree of pragmatism. Poor ground work, abysmal levels of trust, and sometimes even ego stand in the way of engineering the best outcome.

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People focus

“Emotions are an expression of how people are processing information, and can give a strong signal of how the mind is internalizing the discussion.” Managed well, they can turn a frustrating negotiation into one that is pleasant, productive, and even enjoyable.* Just as understanding the power of emotions, acknowledging the value of trust and adopting a win-win approach can go a long way towards ensuring valuable results.

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Negotiations on the leadership path

According to conventional wisdom, leading people requires vision, charisma, and a palpable self-confidence—but not negotiation skills. Negotiation is for use outside the firm—for instance, in cutting deals with partners, customers, and suppliers. The conventional wisdom is dead wrong.* The skill to negotiate is integral, for without it the path to leadership would be difficult.

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Mindful dialogue

Negotiation is inherent in any human interaction. For as long as we live, we are bound to interact with others exchanging mutual needs. We all negotiate… being able to negotiate in a state of awareness enables us to be flexible, open to novelty, creative with alternatives and free from the tyranny of thoughts and emotions. Mindfulness is a skill that, if cultivated and applied to negotiation, could lead to its effectiveness.*

True, mindfulness helps build within us a foundation of empathy and understanding, and takes us closer to the realization that win-win is not mere compromise.

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Creative approach

In an article, ‘Six Guidelines for Getting to Yes’, Katie Shonk cites Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton: “Negotiators should look for negotiation strategies that can help both sides get more of what they want—by listening closely to each other, treating each other fairly, and jointly exploring options to increase value.”* In a negotiation, one has to explore both sides and identify limitless valuable solutions to succeed.

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