Few people know that usually more can be gained in a pre-contract negotiation than in negotiations after a written contract is supplied.
It's about the importance of process over documentation, preparation over punctuation, deal making over contract drafting.
To teach this, since the mid-1990s I've run three hypotheticals on the art of contract negotiation.
The hypothetical are both entertaining and informative. I prepare a script and characterisation for the players. The script allows for a great deal of improvisation. The characters are a panel of "actors" (real people in business playing their real life roles, eg businessperson, lawyer, consultant). The plot involves them talking through a deal in direct negotiations on stage. After many issues arise, this live deal making usually ends in a written contract.
The first and probably best hypothetical I ran was in 1995 for developers of multimedia or IT products at the first national conference of AIMIA. The script had a developer with digital media rights to the book, A History of Australia. The person playing the developer role engaged in negotiations with a panel comprising the book author, book publisher and a CD-ROM distributor. They negotiated together on stage bringing the print book to life on a CD-ROM. DVDs and the internet were not technically or commercially feasible back then.
I then ran a hypothetical for internet entrepreneurs at the first internet expo at Darling Harbour in the late 1990s. This was about raising funds for an internet start-up. An ABC TV employee came up to me after the gig and said a show like it should be on TV.
Next up was a film making contracts hypothetical for film producers in Melbourne for Film Victoria.
Import Export Show
The latest will be part of the Learning Program at Sydney's annual Import/Export Show at Rosehill.
It is titled "Negotiating Your Supplier and Distributor Contracts: A Live Demonstration". The theme here is that if you negotiate good deals leading to written contracts, you'll build a successful import/export business. Taking up the suggestion of a decade ago, this time we'll be filming the event.
As usual the panel in this hypothetical has decades of experience. They cover business management, law, contract translation and transactions, dealing with bribery requests, and benefiting from government grants.
On the panel with me will be:
These experts will workshop in a live demonstration how and what to negotiate in import/export distribution and supply contracts, as well as consultancy contracts. The plot involves an Australian entrepreneur for a venture involving rice, sourcing it in India, having it specially packaged in Thailand and exporting it from there to various countries including Australia.
Event: Import/Export Show
Time: 11.00 to 12.30
Date: 16 September 2011
Venue: Rosehill Gardens Event Centre, James Ruse Drive, Rosehill, Sydney
To attend the expo or register for the Learning Program go to Import/Export Show.
Lectures, seminars, workshops, panel discussions, talks over lunch and hypotheticals all have their place. They dynamics of a hypothetical helps develop process knowledge, in the latest rendition it will be negotiation and deal making skills which can be used immediately.