I am recently returned from a visit to our Shanghai office where I had the opportunity to welcome our latest China Centre MBAs onto the part time Global programme. The new group spent 2 intensive days on the introductory Global Events and Leadership course. I particularly enjoy sitting in on this first course on our Global MBA as it introduces the MBAs to each other and to the Manchester Method in a very practical way (although I’m not going to reveal how here as that would be spoiling the fun!).
Suffice it to say that the combination of academic and practitioner tutors in the guise of Pikay Richardson (our business economics guru who gained his PhD from Manchester a little over 20 years ago) and Leigh Wharton (an alumni of 2001 and company turnaround strategist) certainly livened the room!
In addition to spending time with the new recruits I also had the benefit of being given a guided tour of the city ‘hot spots’ of my choice by one of our PhD alums who now works in advertising in Shanghai. My academic background is Information Technology so my destination of choice was the mobile phone mall, which I thinking was something of a surprise for my guide Dr Theresa Loo who was expecting me to want to go handbag shopping! So, 8 floors of mobile phone micro-shops, small stalls mashing up mobiles, stands selling mobile phone numbers (virtually none with the number 4 in them .. anyone care to tell me why?) … I was in my element, the sheer energy in the building, the feeling that I was watching innovation occurring in real time and the surprise that despite there being thousands of phones on offer the one I wanted wasn’t to be found for the price I was prepared to pay…. even Theresa’s negotiating skills couldn’t magic the particular model that my daughter had demanded for a price I was prepared to pay!
Second on my wish list were a couple of Chinese paintings and here Theresa had much more success on my behalf. Again I had very specific requirements, this time I was looking for a pair of paintings that were of a specific size to fit frames I already own. In the first place finding paintings to match my exacting specification was a challenge but then the negotiation process was sheer poetry in motion! Although Theresa was negotiating in Mandarin the classic stages in the negotiation process were still clear to see …
1. identifying the problem (or product),
2. listening assertively to ensure you understand the problem (or product on offer),
3. brainstorming towards a solution (so querying the product, it’s quality, the workmanship etc.),
4. picking a solution (deciding which product or problem to settle for);
5. making the contract (haggling over the details, in the case of market shopping .. the price)
6. trying out the solution (settling on a solution, or in the case of market shopping agreeing the price)
7. looking for problems in the contract (undertaking a risk analysis on the proposed solution, or price. Iterating back to 1 if the solution, or price is not acceptable).
I’m delighted to say that Theresa’s negotiation on my behalf was fruitful. An agreement was reached, there were smiles and satisfaction on both sides and I am now the proud own of two rather abstract painting of bamboo. So, thanks to Theresa for a thoroughly enjoyable and fruitful couple of hours!
Launch of International Business Project Class 2011
Whilst I was in China the full time MBAs were entering the final stages of bidding for their client based final International Business project. Due to the sterling work of the projects team headed by Professor Syd Howell and Dr Phil Galvin there was an outstanding range of client projects on offer from both longstanding and new clients. The industry sectors represented range from traditional manufacturing to retailing, pharmaceuticals and new media. As we enter the IB stage of the MBA the similarities with the negotiation process I describe above and the IB process are striking…
1. identifying the problem. A key challenge for the teams is to identify from a client brief what type of challenge the client has asked them to explore. For example is it a route to market, sales pipeline or new market challenge;
2. listening assertively to ensure you understand the problem. Clients are experts in their business area and one of the biggest challenges when starting on the IB project is for teams to ensure that they are listening carefully to what they are being told at client briefing sessions to ensure they fully understand what the problem they have been asked to address is;
3. brainstorming towards a solution. At the time of writing this is the stage that most of the teams are currently at. At MBS we’re not fans of ‘free form’ brainstorming, we demand the an analytical and methodical approach is applied to identifying possible routes towards a solution .. this is usually where the supervisor/team relationships become interesting .. and that is certainly the case this week!
4. picking a solution. Our client briefs are usually challenging so the challenge for the team is to identify a course of action that will result in a useful deliverable to the client within the time and budget available,
5. making the contract. Ensuring that the strategy that the team is proposing is acceptable and approved by the client.
6. trying out the solution. For IB this can be equated to the data collection and analysis stages of the project.
7. looking for problems in the contract. For IB can be equated to the development of the final recommendations and implications section of the IB project reports
So, I would like to wish Class 2011 a successful outcome to the negotiation process that will form your IB experience. The brainstorming stage that you are currently in can often be the most uncertain of times but once you’ve settled on the solution you propose to adopt and agreed that with the client the direction that the project will take the rest should be straightforward.
For myself, from now on I won’t be able to look at my newly acquired paintings without thinking of IB week!