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Renegotiating for Corporate Innovation

By Marc Freeman

No company can exist without innovation. Those companies that don’t reinvent themselves or their product will begin to lose market share quickly. The leadership of the company must get the buy into that innovation from every employee in the company. This is where the renegotiating begins.

Ask any executive of any company that is always looking to create new innovations and they will tell you that it is a company wide effort. It must be built into the corporate culture. This means constant changes. It is this constant changing that creates the opportunity to renegotiate within the company, between departments, with vendors and especially with your customers.

Renegotiating is the art of revising, altering or changing a previously negotiated relationship. Every new idea, every desire for a new product, every need for a new procedure, and every request for a new innovation creates the change in a previously negotiated relationship that now has to be renegotiated. This is where our behavior counts most. If the corporate culture supports innovation, then employees won’t be afraid to give their ideas. They will look forward to giving them and will feel empowered. In too many companies, employees are afraid to voice their ideas for fear of being ridiculed, because there is no one to go to with a new idea, or they know that their superior will take credit if it is a good idea and blame the employee if it is a bad idea.

Constant change will create an atmosphere of excitement and innovation. Remember that change has to come and be executed in an organized manner. Change without organization is called chaos and that is worse then never changing at all. Here are seven key steps to create and encourage innovation in any company:

1. Take Control of the Process: If one wants to be in control then you need to understand a major principal of renegotiation, “The Secret of the Orange Ball.”  Someone has to be in control for any change or renegotiation to move forward. Otherwise, there is chaos and disorganization. The concept of the Orange Ball is to know who is in control. If the process is not going in a direction that you want or need you must then know who is in control of the Orange Ball how to get control of it back. How else can a renegotiation be monitored for progress?

In order to keep in control of the Orange Ball or to get control back you need to get everyone involved to “Hit the Refresh Button.” This is another important principle of renegotiating. The main technique here is listening. Listening is such an important skill when change needs to occur that without it there will be certain failure. The design team must listen to the production team. The production team must listen to the sales team. The sales team must listen to the customers and the executive team must listen to everyone. Remember listening is a verb not a noun. Listening is a learned skill, and doesn’t necessarily come naturally. Listening means being silent while someone else is speaking. It means not thinking about how you are going to respond while someone else it talking. It means no interrupting. In that silence you will find all of the answers. Proper listening will give you the skills to ask the right questions. We always learn more by asking questions rather than answering them. A great question is worth a 1000 answers.

2. Be Nice: Being nice does not mean being insipid or insincere. Actually, it means quite the opposite. It means, to be generous, to be respectful. Also, use humor where appropriate. Humor puts everything on a lighter note. It allows those involved to have fun during the process. Sarcasm is not humor and belittlement of others is not funny.

3. Create a Corporate Culture That Encourages Organized Change: Every employee must understand, how these changes are going to affect him or her personally, in a positive way, immediately and in the long term. Then develop a process where every employee is expected to participate in making the company more innovative through creating excellence in every aspect of the company.

4. Promote Employee Involvement: Create a culture where every employee is encouraged to speak up at specific times and express constructive ways to make the company more efficient and products and services better. Once this process is in place, create teams to look at every aspect of the operations of the company and create ways to make each part better. Constantly trying to improve and fine tune how the company functions.

5. Show Respect to All Employees: Employees will only come along for the journey if the executives show them respect. Do not pay lip service to changes that the employees come up with and that the executives agree to implement. Only commit to changes that the executives are willing to have the company execute. Being honest with the employees will show them respect. Management also needs to make some of the changes that the employees are giving otherwise the employees won’t take the process seriously.

6. Make Realistic Time Frames, Don’t Rush Changes: Giving people a proper amount of time to create changes within any organization is the best way to show respect. Allow those who are making the changes to create the time lines and then help them to keep to those commitments. If you rush a change, more times than not, everyone will be disappointed.

7. Create a Culture of Listening From the Top Down and Act on What You Hear: Take all ideas seriously and set up a team with employees from every part of the company to look at all new ideas. Get back to those that offered the idea and let them know how their idea will or will not be implemented.

Innovation is the key to success in any business. It is what pushes each one of us, and forces our companies and even our society to move ahead and be better to be excellent in what services or products we represent. Competition forces innovation. Renegotiating with integrity will move the process of change and therefore all innovations ahead that much quicker.

Read other articles and learn more about Marc Freeman.

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