Sunday, 23 May 2010

Lessons for Innovation Practitioners (2): The Deal is the Deal: Always Renegotiate

In Luc Besson’s excellent first “Transporter” movie, the hero (played by Jason Statham) has 3 rules. The first two apply to your situation: 1) The deal is the deal; 2) Never open the package.

However, for the Change Specialist or Innovation Practitioner, these “rules” need a slight modification:

1) Only the latest deal is the deal. Keep the deal fresh and documented.

2) Always open the package. Make sure you know what’s in the deal and what’s changed.

The optimal moment for making yourself effective and managing the power of other peoples’ accumulated Relationship Capital and their need to devalue any that you may develop, is the moment when you are appointed and when you have the opportunity to negotiate “the deal” around those elements that must be managed in order for you to deliver your best to the organisation.

Fundamentally, this involves objectifying the ambition of the organisation out of the context that drove your appointment, by defining the key “chunks” of your programme in terms of time, resources and political backing required in order to deliver. This needs to be documented in some form of Memorandum of Understanding with the CEO, and other functional heads. In reality, we all know that customers change their minds, stuff happens, reality shifts and ambitions shrink and expand. The key thing to remember is that when the Deal you have drawn up with the Organisation can no longer be operationalised: then you must renegotiate the Deal and all the detail involved.

Failure to renegotiate when circumstances change, on the assumption that everyone after all, was in the same meeting and has a shared understanding of the new circumstances that delayed your programme or reprioritised investment, is dangerous and naive. Someone, at board level will exploit that curious collective amnesia and groupthink of top teams and degrade your growing Relationship Capital by pointing out that you have failed, the whisper will grow to become fact. So being right in retrospect, is not a defence.