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Maset News

Volume 36  March 23, 2004

Message From Charles Loew
Comments From Our Readers
New On The Maset Web Site
Helpful Hints from fellow Practitioners
Top Ten List
Feature Of This Issue
Second Feature Of This Issue
QBQ! QuickNote
Coming in the Next Few Issues


Welcome to MASET News. A monthly publication dedicated to the communication between MASET and our many interested friends, customers and potential customers




We welcome Dr. William Stinnett as a new associate to our ranks. Bill has had extensive experience in the fields of coaching and training of facilitators and trainers. He has conducted extensive research in Organization Development as well as other areas of communications. Bill brings us a number of additional Products and Services that we have added to our capabilities. Please review the summaries in the "New on the MASET Web Site" section as well as the complete descriptions on the web itself. Please contact us for further information if you are interested in any of these.

Our feature article this month, You've 60 Seconds to Make up Your Mind" by Jeffrey Mayer, is a very good analysis of the recent acquisition of ATT Wireless. It is about the need and benefits of making decisions rapidly and the rewards that can occur with that type of a management environment. Can your organization react so quickly?

The second article, "Negotiating in China" by Meridian Resources, is a continuation of last month's article on how negotiating in a different culture may be very different than our own culture. Many readers of the Maset News live in different cultures. This article focuses on China, but similar situations exist in every culture, necessitating the need to acquire some understand-ing of that culture before you begin negotiations.

Finally, "QBQ QuickNote #10" by John G. Miller, covers the topic "Helping Organizations Make Personal Accountability a Core Value" Just think how good we would become in the eyes of our customers if we could accomplish this within our organizations




  • "Yes, I am receiving monthly Maset News. Thanks for the same for providing excellent inputs." - India

  • "Life is made up of four balls that we juggle. One is family, one is health, one is friendships, and one is work. All of the balls are made of glass except for work. Work is made of rubber. If you drop the glass balls, they may shatter or be broken but the rubber ball always bounces back." - Stan Adams
  • TOP 



    Dr. William Stinnett, an expert in coaching and working with executives, has joined the Maset team.

    Newly added to Product and Services is the methodology that Bill uses in Executive Coaching with his clients. Also added are three new workshops and training courses delivered by Bill., including "An Intercultural Simulation", "Pumping the Colors" - A Team Building Simulation and Leader Effectiveness Training.




    In addition to having team members write their name on a tent card, request them to write their functional organization below it. This will alert you when you get to a phase in the process when a person should be bringing forth issues, should they be the shy retiring type like myself.




    Guidelines for Giving Effective Feedback

    Second half of fourteen guidelines

    1. Deliver without anger or threats.
    2. Ask for participants' reaction and response.
    3. Continually check for understanding.
    4. Maintain eye contact.
    5. Use "I" statements.
    6. Ask what you can do to help.
    7. Be clear about the consequences of not changing behavior.





    by Jeffrey Mayer

    You must make up your mind in 60 seconds.

    No time to think. No time to change your mind. Answer Yes, or No.

    What are you going to do?

    Has anybody ever given you a choice where you had to make a decision almost instantly?

    How did that make you feel?

    What if it was a $41 billion decision?

    I'm asking that question because the feature story in almost every newspaper in America this past week was the high-stakes poker game being played by Cingular and Vodafone over AT&T Wireless.

    The winner would become the largest wireless communications company in the United States. The loser. Well, you know what happens to losers.

    As you go through life you must capture the opportunities that come your way. Do so and you can become a HUGE success.

    Let them slip through your fingers, and you're an alsoran.

    The payoff for making this strategic acquisition is huge. If Cingular, which is jointly owned by SBC and BellSouth, were to win the AT&T Wireless auction it would extend its reach to 97 of the nation's top 100 markets, and would have 46 million customers.

    It's late Monday night. The Cingular team has yet to hear from AT&T Wireless as to who has won the bidding war.

    At 9:30 p.m., James Kahan, the head of SBC's mergers and acquisitions department, called his lead attorney Joseph Frumkin. He suggested that Mr. Frumkin contact Steven Rosenblum, his counterpart at AT&T Wireless' law firm, to ask if they would be open to receiving one more bid from Cingular.

    Mr. Frumkin had one more requirement: Cingular would offer $15 per share - $41 billion - if AT&T Wireless would make its decision within 60 seconds of receiving the revised offer.

    They said yes.

    SBC and BellSouth went to work. Midnight conference calls were scheduled for the boards of directors of both companies. By 1:40 a.m. both boards had approved the offer.

    At 2:15 a.m. on a cold February night, the Cingular legal team walked the four blocks to meet with AT&T Wireless' executives, board members and attorneys. At 2:30 a.m. the deal was signed.

    In London it was 8:30 a.m. The board of Vodafone was about to meet to approve the deal that Chief Executive Arun Sarin had negotiated the night before. Just before the meeting was about to begin, he received a phone call informing him that Cingular had already closed the deal.

    I can only wonder what the members of his board of directors had to say to him when their meeting started.

    Three Lessons Learned

    There are three lessons we can learn from these events.

    1. Capture Your Opportunities.

    As you go through life, there are some opportunities that you can't allow to slip through your fingers. You must do everything possible to close the deal.

    But that means you must see the opportunity in the first place.

    Unfortunately, most of us are too busy looking at the knots in the trees to see the tree itself, let along the forest.

    We're doing things that keep us busy - but offer little or no payoff - instead of being productive.

    We're so busy putting out fires, many are the result of arson, that we don't have time to think about - let along - execute our strategic goals and objectives. Then we wonder why we're working so hard, and have so little to show for it.

    2. Don't Take Anything for Granted.

    Dot your I's and cross your T's. You can't take anything for granted.

    Create a sense of urgency.

    Vodafone 'assumed' they had a deal. But they forgot the #1 rule in sales: A deal isn't a deal until the contract's signed. Apparently, they weren't in a hurry to get it done. They hadn't given AT&T Wireless an agreement to sign.

    The Vodafone board of directors was going to consider a sweetened offer at 9:00 a.m. London time, 3:00 a.m. NYC time.

    By then they were too late. The deal with Cingular was signed, sealed and delivered. It was DONE! The champagne was flowing.

    3. Pick up the telephone.

    Don't be a wall flower. If you want to talk with someone, pick up the phone. If you've got a question, pick up the phone. If you're looking for new customers, pick up the phone.

    What would have happened if James Kahan hadn't called Joseph Frumkin. Nothing!

    AT&T Wireless would have become Vodafone's.

    The telephone is the most efficient way of finding prospects and creating opportunities.

    Cingular acquired AT&T Wireless because they decided not to sit around and wait for AT&T Wireless' attorneys to tell them if they had won or lost. James Kahan picked up the phone and changed the rules of the game.

    He gave Cingular one last opportunity and they walked away with the grand prize.

    Reprint permission granted in part or whole when the following credit appears: "Reprinted with permission from Jeffrey Mayer's Succeeding In Business Newsletter (Copyright, 2001, Jeffrey J. Mayer, Succeeding In Business, Inc.). To subscribe to Jeff's free newsletter, visit"




    Negotiating in China Part II

    By Meridian Resources

    Negotiating in China can be a tremendous challenge. In Part I of this subject, we looked at the five topics below:

    1. Confidentiality in the negotiating context
    2. Effective openings: presenting your position
    3. Maintaining a continuous negotiating record
    4. Knowing your bottom line
    5. Making concessions

    In this issue, we'll take a brief look at the following four topics:

    1. The importance of discipline
    2. Patience and control of the time element
    3. Negotiating "after hours"
    4. Negotiation after the contract

    The Importance of Discipline

    A common mistake made by Western teams negotiating in China is to fail to appoint a leader to speak consistently for the entire team. Reflecting their preference to give each person his own voice, Western team leaders will often encourage each member of the team to speak up as he or she sees fit.

    The Chinese are masters at exploiting inconsistencies among members of a Western team, and may go out of their way to develop a warm emotional bond with a Western team member they perceive as more favorable to their interests. They will then appeal to this "friend" to move the negotiation in their direction when it is advantageous to do so.

    Advice for Negotiators:

    Appoint a spokesman for your team, usually the team leader, and let him or her do the talking

    Never reveal disagreements to the Chinese; speak with one voice

    Do not let Chinese flattery, charm or appeals to "friendship" cloud your thinking; you are negotiating for your interests, not those of the Chinese

    Patience and Control of the Time Element

    Because they tend to be impatient, Western negotiators often yield control of the time element to their Chinese counterparts. And control of the time element is one of the most potent weapons in the arsenal of a skilled negotiator.

    For example, Western negotiators will often reveal their deadline, hoping that doing so will spur the Chinese to conclude negotiations swiftly. Instead, however, the Chinese will often stall until the last minute, at which point they will demand large concessions. With little time left, the Western team must now choose between going home empty-handed, or granting outsized concessions in order to seal the deal. The Chinese are counting on the Western team making the latter choice, giving them a huge advantage.

    Advice for Negotiators:

    Never reveal your true deadline; if asked, offer a "working deadline" with plenty of extra time until your actual deadline

    Never reveal your senior management's expectations for when they expect you to close the deal

    Avoid negotiating with only one potential partner; simultaneous negotiation with multiple potential partners gives you a potent defense against time pressure

    Negotiating "After Hours"

    Many an unwary Western negotiator has been completely blindsided when the unresolved issues of the day's negotiations appear again during a 12-course banquet hosted by the Chinese. The Chinese know that a mixture of fatigue, alcohol, and the warm emotional ambience they are masters at creating is a potent weapon in getting their Western counterparts to make important concessions.

    Western negotiators may also be surprised when the Chinese team sends important negotiating signals via flowery toasts full of metaphors, allegories, and stories serving as a kind of "code" for new demands or concerns about your position.

    Many Westerners draw a clear line between work and socializing; the Chinese do not. A Western team must be therefore be prepared for negotiating any time "after hours."

    Advice for Negotiators:

    Be sure your team leader and at least one other member remain sober; appoint a "designated drinker" to drink as protocol requires

    Be sure your interpreter is prepared to "decode" Chinese toasts that signal negotiating intent, and be prepared to respond with return toasts as needed

    If necessary, decline to negotiate after hours by saying something like "we'd prefer to enjoy the marvelous food and drink you have prepared for us, and resume discussions tomorrow."

    Negotiating After the Contract

    Western business professionals often complain that Chinese negotiators like to negotiate after a contract is signed, a practice sometimes viewed as negotiating in bad faith. Rather than being surprised or upset by this practice, it is better to understand the background behind it and prepare accordingly.

    The Chinese are a highly relationship-based people. Consequently, they tend to view the contract as a symbol of a new relationship and the contract itself as only a "snapshot" of that relationship at a particular point in time. This means that after the contract is signed, the Chinese look to the underlying relationship to solve problems, not to the contract.

    Westerners should remember that during negotiations, the relationship is still being tested and the two parties are still to some degree adversaries; after the contract has been signed, the two parties are partners solving problems together. What Westerners see as questionable negotiation after the contract is, from the Chinese perspective, simply joint problem-solving.

    Advice for Negotiators:

    Don't assume that a signed contract means that negotiations have stopped; problem-solving outside the terms of the contract is common and expected

    Build extra flexibility into your post-signing plans for implementation; if you do not assume that the contract will be followed exactly, you will encounter fewer surprises

    Try to avoid taking legal action against a Chinese partner or entity that you feel has violated the terms of a contract; remember that China's legal infrastructure is still weak and stacked against you


    The Chinese are extremely capable negotiators and Westerners should beware of overconfidence. More than anything else, the keys to success in negotiating with the Chinese are these:

    Prepare carefully
    Put relationships first
    Be patient and flexible

    Since negotiations in China are always complex and unpredictable, it is wise to give yourself extra leeway when making commitments to your own management about how fast you can come to agreement with your Chinese counterparts. Managing expectations at home is thus as much a part of a successful plan in China as is your negotiating strategy.

    Meridian offers a complete set of consulting and training services for companies doing business in the PRC. Contact us to find out more about how we can assist you with your China operations.



    QBQ! (The Question Behind the Question) QuickNote #10

    John G. Miller
    Author of the QBQ! book.

    Personal Accountability
    "Helping Organizations Make Personal Accountability a Core Value"!
    "Why can't customers follow the rules?"

    You might be thinking nobody would ever ask that lousy question. Maybe not in so many words, but ...

    Sitting in the restaurant booth with her menu unopened, the customer looks cheerily up at the server and asks, "So, what's new in the way of bread bowl salads?" The response? "Most people just read the menu." Ouch.

    The customer approaches the pharmacy counter giving his name. The clerk searches a basket and then says, "Is your name currently displayed on our electronic board on the wall?" Her customer responds, "No, but I called an hour ago and was told my meds are here and ready to go." Gesturing to the customer's left, she says, "Next time you need to get in that line! But, this time I'll go to the back to find it." The customer turns to see an unmoving line so long the last person is in another county!

    The insurance agent talks with the policyholder by phone a day after an auto claim was submitted. The young customer in his twenties describes his first accident ever and what steps he took afterward. After hearing the story the agent shares his thoughts: "I believe I need to come over and sit down with you and your wife so we can go over the rules again."

    The HMO customer finally gets through the automated phone system (clearly designed to keep customers away) to a hopefully compassionate and caring phone nurse. She tells the nurse she believes a small piece of glass is stuck in her index finger. It's sore but she's unable to see anything embedded in the skin. It's possibly been there for a couple weeks and she's tried to live with it. Now it's probably time to come in and have a professional look at it. How did the healthcare provider respond to her customer in pain? With these words: "And what do you expect us to do now that you have put this off so long?" Mmm, could the answer be "HELP ME???"

    Here we are in a flat economy with competition for every dollar as tough as ever. And on the lobby walls of our institutions we post our mission and vision statements, and every one of them refers in some way to "serving the customer." Sorry if this offends but I say, "MEANINGLESS!" Why? Because -

    In the customer's eyes the institution is only as good as the person they are interacting with - at that moment.

    It's really never about institutions, is it? It's always about individuals.

    When an individual's personal customer care philosophy is "Bad, bad customers! Why don't they follow the rules?" then the values we proclaim on the lobby walls are a waste and we fail everyone. Things can be better, though, when each of us practices personal accountability by asking terrific questions - QBQ!s - such as:

    "How can I best serve this person at this moment?"

    "What words can I choose to put this customer at ease?"

    "How can I improve my tone so as to make the customer feel special?"

    Accountable thinking like this can make all the difference. I recently phoned the Department of Motor Vehicles in Denver and found a person who really demonstrated the QBQ! spirit. She was kind and patient as she answered every one of my questions. How simple, but what a difference! I got off the phone thinking, "Now there's a magnificent institution doing great things for humankind!"

    Don't we all want our customers to feel that way about our organization?

    All it takes are some good questions and one individual who cares.

    John G. Miller

    author of the QBQ! book




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