Technology and Corporations

Fortune has excerpts from a Brainstorm 2004 panel entitled, “Technology and the Modern Corporation: How Different Will It Become?” Writes David Kirkpatrick:

Wipro’s Paul talked about how companies were virtualizing–becoming focused on their core competence and outsourcing the rest (to companies like Wipro, of course). Malone talked about his belief that the balance of power in business is shifting from management to the employee. GM’s Scott made some surprising remarks about how the new balance of power was manifested at the carmaker. That company really does seem to be moving toward becoming virtual. Schwartz of Sun explained how his company is concretely reacting to the breakdown in the hierarchy of business–everybody there is now blogging, including him. That means secrets just aren’t what they used to be. Anderson threw in some cautionary words urging everybody else to avoid becoming too utopian. And finally, from the floor came surprising voices–CEO Meg Whitman explaining how she governs eBay, everybody’s favorite example of today’s paradigmatic company; and Wal-Mart board member Jim Breyer on the challenges of adapting to the new world of empowerment while simultaneously operating in an increasingly regulated environment.

Negotiating Backward

[via Jeff Nolan] HBS Working Knowledge has an article by James Sebenius:

When you map a negotiation backward, you envision your preferred outcome and think in reverse about how to get there. Here are the basic steps:

1. Draw a “map” of the parties who are currently involved and those who might potentially get onboard, along with their interests and their no-deal options.

2. Estimate the difficulty and cost of gaining agreement with each party as well as the value of having that person or group onboard.

3. Identify key relationships among the parties: who influences whom, who tends to defer to whom, who owes something to whom, and so on.

4. Focus on the most-difficult-to-persuade playeryour ultimate target or someone else who’s critical to the deal. Ask these questions: Which prior agreement or agreements among which set of the other playersif such agreements were in placewould maximize the chances of the target saying yes on your terms? Whom would you like to have onboard when you initiate negotiations with the target?

5. Ask analogous questions about the player(s) at this next-to-final stage: Whom would you ideally like to have onboard to maximize the chances of the most difficult player at this stage saying “yes”? How can you win that party over?

Map backward in this fashion until you have found the most promising path through the cloud of possibilities.