Last week I was privileged to participate in the Biggest Negotiation of Your Life Challenge put on by the Black Swan Group. It’s the consulting company formed by Chris Voss, the author of Never Split the Difference.
During the challenge I had a big aHa about the difference between planning and preparation.
On the Wednesday, Chris Voss and Derek Gaunt interviewed Yan-David Erlich and Merci Grace on how they used Tactical Empathy skills to make better deals.
I had my aHa listening to Merci talk about her preparations for deals.
She reminded me of an athlete’s preparation. She considers what she wants from the deal. Investigates the other side. Scripts out what she would like to happen and practices it. But then on the day she is ready to respond to what actually occurs. When it is what she prepared for, then she feels like a Jedi master.
She spends way more time in this preparation then the actual negotiation meeting. Which reminds me of an athlete’s preparation. They train and practice way longer than any match. Then in competition they are in Zen-like flow and respond.
To me that is how preparation is different from planning. Planning denotes that you map out a path you will execute. Being prepared enables you to execute the path that opens up to you.
I think this is a really important distinction for Marketers. Tactical Empathy is what we are trying to achieve when we are trying to listen to and engage with a customer landscape that is always changing. Being prepared for what might open up is much more of value than planning. Otherwise, we spend all our time reworking our plans. It’s much more important to be able to shift and respond to changes in the market.
Oh, and by the way… what is the most important negotiation of your life? Chris Voss said it’s the next one. So true.