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Advice That Sticks 26 August 2016

When starting out in a career, chances are you’ll hear a lot of advice being freely given out. Some advice will be useless, some relevant, some will even be good, but the genuine pearls of wisdom you’ll recognise immediately. So here is some of the advice that stuck with us.

Shifting Landscapes Will Kill Your Deal

You’ve been in negotiations with your supplier for a while. You think you’ve reached an agreement, but a couple of things need a final look over. Then another project gets in the way and before you know it, a week’s gone by and you’ve still not sealed the deal. The trouble is, during the intervening period the landscape has shifted. The old terms aren’t on the table anymore. It’s back to square one. Given enough time, the landscape will shift and your deal will be dead on the table. Seal the deal – or lose it.

Watch the Creek

With work being busy, it’s easy to become so immersed in your own bubble you become oblivious to what’s going on around you. Whether that’s keeping an eye on industry current trends and topics, or watching the political temperature in your department or organisation, you want to make sure you’re watching the creek – or you could get caught up it without a paddle.

Boil it Down

Whenever you’re presented with a complex situation with multiple players making multiple demands, ask yourself – in essence, what is everyone else trying to achieve? If you can’t answer simply, you don’t have enough information. This comes in handy, particularly in negotiations. Find out why someone is so intent on getting a specific clause written into the deal – for example – a two month lead time to supply a major component. It could be this time scale is being dictated by their supplier who in turn is attempting to manage cash flow. If you don’t know what the underlying issue is, you can’t fix it to your advantage. Boil it down and deal with the essence of it.

What’s Going to Kill Us Next?

Borrowed from astronauts, operating in the most hostile environment known to man (and woman) kind, this question addresses risk. It’s all very well asking ‘where is our exposure’, but the lack of urgency in the language is less likely to motivate you to drill down to the very real risks a supply chain may face. Supply chain foul-ups immediately impact your entire organisation – so expect the worst-case scenario every time and prepare for it.

Trust Your Instincts

We’ve all heard the saying: “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, chances are, it’s a duck”. It may be an old saying, but it’s true. If something doesn’t feel right, then keep looking before you leap. Whether the niggle at the back of your mind relates to concerns over a supplier’s ability to reliably supply, or whether they’re acting within the parameters of your company’s CSR, if something doesn’t ‘feel’ right, then don’t do it. Whilst it may be hard to justify, it’s better to be cautious than to be caught out. Is there anything more frustrating than having to deal with a crisis while the irritating voice in your head mockingly repeats: “I knew it, I knew it”.