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The bigger they come...


This week it was announced that General Motors 90-year reign as the top US car seller has ended.


The BBC reports that Toyota has claimed the top spot selling more than 2.3 million vehicles in the US last year. General Motors attributed their slump apparently to the widespread shortage of semi-conductor parts. Logical, one might think as everyone is aware of these type of resource issues, at the moment.


However, in the same article it’s also reported that overall GM sales decreased by 13% whilst Toyota had increased their sales by 10% - a whopping swing of 23%!


I have a strong suspicion that, given the turbulence of 2021, as well as holding some stock, Toyota most probably secured a more agile, adaptable and flexible deal for last year’s supply of the semi-conductors than GM did.


it's easy when we're the market leader, the big fish or le grande fromage to post-rationalise setbacks when they occur. Our fantastic history, superb track record and innovative such as ‘self-serving bias’ instead (believing failures are due to external factors, yet you're responsible for your own successes). This is just one of 188 classified cognitive biases that affect us.


The problem is that as negotiators, if we allow these to go unchecked, we miss the chance to improve; we don’t get better, and we can get stuck. We need the self-awareness to understand which biases we are more likely to be susceptible. In our negotiation process this can be addressed in both Review and Planning (two important phases in the Savage Macbeth negotiation process model). In reviewing the deals that we agree (and those that we don’t), we also need to examine how, where and when specific biases affected the negotiation and most importantly what we’ll do differently next time to improve our performance in key areas.


This seamlessly moves us on to the planning for our next engagements using this same level of objectivity to define our targets and goals with clarity, specificity, and robustness - in both a quantitative and qualitative sense. With 188 potential biases snapping at our heels (and those of the other side) our approach to negotiating behaviour and communication becomes every bit as important as our financial and quantitative objectives.


I wait with interest to see what changes GM implement for this year and whether they regain their top spot. Then again, maybe Toyota have locked in a multi-year deal for semi conductors……


Sam Macbeth, 6th January 2021

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