Tag Archives: Rotman/UTP

Negotiating Better by Negotiating like a Barterer

Written by guest blogger, Brian Gunia.

On a recent wintry weekend, for the lack of a better option, my daughters and I visited “Ridley’s Accept it or Else.” Our excitement over this museum of the odd must’ve been obvious, as the receptionist immediately offered a three-attraction combo ticket.

“And what does that include?” I inquired.

“All our weird and wacky attractions,” she said, “along with the marvelous house of mirrors and the exhilarating 4-D motion theater.”

“Are all those appropriate for a six- and three-year-old?” I probed.

“Oh yes, there’s nothing scary here.”

I should’ve known better. But on this, our first visit to Ridley’s, I wanted to show my ragamuffins a good time. So I bought it.

And I’ll admit it: We lapped up their weird and wacky attractions. From locks of Lincoln’s hair, to a shrunken head, to a T-Rex made of pop tart wrappers, we relished some of the world’s oddest oddities.

But then came the marvelous house of mirrors. A pitch-black maze of mirrors from which several world-renowned explorers have never escaped, it wasn’t so marvelous for my three-year-old. It propelled her into a state of abject fear.

And so, when we somehow escaped and approached the exhilarating 4-D motion theater, she wouldn’t even consider it. Nor could I blame her given the signs about sudden movements and sharp drops.

Appropriate for a six- and three-year-old? The former maybe, the latter absolutely not.

In sum, none of us really enjoyed the mirrors, and none of us even tried the theater. So I was irritated and wanted money back. And my daughters’ impending hunger and extreme fatigue made me want it now.

Operating under the visceral influences of irritation, hunger, and fatigue, I must admit I adopted a negotiation style that my book explicitly criticizes: the monetary mindset. Specifically, I marched up to the receptionist, told her what I thought of her sales tactics, and demanded some money back. In so doing, I was treating this negotiation like a monetary transaction, making the unproductive assumptions that:

  • I wanted just one thing (a big rebate)
  • I was negotiating with just one person (the receptionist)
  • She wanted just the opposite (no rebate)
  • For me to win, she’d have to lose
  • Or else we’d have to compromise


“Let me call my supervisor,” said the receptionist, followed shortly after the call by, “We can’t give you any money back.”

Most people’s story stops right there. They adopt the monetary mindset, fight over a fixed pie, and march out of Ridley’s with little or nothing but frustration to show for it.

To the receptionist’s extreme credit, though, she attached another statement to the last: “But we can offer you our latest book on Ridley’s oddest oddities.”

Now, I doubt the receptionist was thinking quite so strategically, but this statement epitomizes the approach my own book actually recommends: the bartering mindset. In offering the Ridley’s book, she was treating this negotiation like bartering trade, making the much more productive assumptions that:

  • She wanted and could offer several things (e.g., my future business and the book, respectively)
  • She was negotiating with several people (my souvenir-hungry daughters in addition to myself)
  • I wanted and could offer several things too (e.g., to satisfy my daughters and visit Ridley’s again, respectively)
  • For her to succeed, I’d have to feel like a winner too
  • Which we could achieve by exchanging the book for no hard feelings about the initial scam


In sum, the receptionist compensated for her earlier sketchiness by adopting a highly productive negotiation strategy that treated the situation like bartering trade, i.e., by assuming the bartering mindset. Awakened from the visceral influences of irritation, hunger, and fatigue by her sophisticated response, I shed my own unproductive monetary mindset, accepted the book gratefully, and publicly promised my daughters to return to Ridley’s soon. And don’t think they’ll forget it.

Just a funny story to introduce my new book, The Bartering Mindset, which will help you grapple with many of life’s challenges—including the substantially more serious. I hope you’ll join me in learning to negotiate like a barterer.

Brian C. Gunia is Associate Professor at the Carey Business School, Johns Hopkins University and the author of The Bartering Mindset: A Mostly Forgotten Framework for Mastering Your Next Negotiation.

Unlocking Redesigning Work

LoweGraves_RedesigningWorkGraham Lowe and Frank Graves discuss why they wrote Redesigning Work: A Blueprint for Canada’s Future Well-being and Prosperity.

This book is about the future of work. We wrote Redesigning Work to meet what we see as an urgent need for a clear path to a better working future for all Canadians – a future that meets their aspirations and needs.

Our public opinion research has identified a disturbing trend in the Great Recession’s aftermath: Canadians increasingly believe that opportunities for middle class progress are rapidly disappearing. Individual effort, skill and innovation no longer assure economic security or upward mobility. What’s more, our parallel tracking of work trends before and after the recession also reveals arrested progress, accompanied by declining quality of work life.

Redesigning Work counters these negative trends, showing how it is possible to create a more positive future. We outline how improvements in peoples’ jobs and workplaces can raise the quality of life by unlocking previously untapped potential to strengthen the Canadian economy. That’s how we link wellbeing and prosperity.

We intend Redesigning Work to be a catalyst for the actions needed to build a better future for Canada’s economy and society. Canadians view their future with considerable pessimism. Large majorities of Canadians see on the horizon declining living standards, a besieged middle-class, an anemic economy, a widening divide between haves and have-nots, and a reduced quality of life. We counter this bleak scenario with a blueprint for creating better jobs and workplaces. This blueprint is grounded on a worker-defined vision for the future will lead to not only higher levels of wellbeing but also will stimulate the creativity and productivity Canada needs from its workforce in order to have a thriving economy.

Prosperity and wellbeing go hand in glove; you can’t have one without the other. Most commentators and experts would agree with this point. Yet surprisingly, what’s been missing from the post-recession media commentary and expert analysis of how to kick-start the economy and restore opportunities to achieve a comfortable middle-class living standard is a focus on people’s daily work.

Redesigning Work aims to fill this gap, offering constructive insights on how jobs and workplaces hold some of the keys to a robust recovery. Based on the extensive feedback we received from thousands of Canadian workers, we identify numerous practical ways that existing jobs can be made more motivating, rewarding and productive. Our evidence paints an optimistic picture of the future of work, especially if employers and policy makers have the will to implement small changes in work that have the potential to make a big difference.

And there may be more will to act now than at any time in the previous decade. Restoring middle class progress was a core issue in the October 2015 federal election. EKOS polls after the Trudeau Liberals’ election victory show a spike in public optimism: people believe that the economic outlook can be improved. To be sure, the Canadian public laid a bold wager on a new approach to the economy, eschewing a neo-liberal model which seemed oblivious to eroding living standards and rising inequality. These bigger concerns are the backdrop for the book. Our focus is on people’s daily work, arguing that more rewarding and engaging jobs are an essential component of any plan to restore prosperity.

As sociologists, each of us has spent our career (Lowe as a university professor and workplace consultant; Graves as a pollster and public opinion researcher) analyzing how people’s work experiences influence their thinking and behaviour. We’ve interpreted these work experiences on the wider canvas of social, demographic and economic change. We believe that it is possible to design a better future using solid evidence about how individuals respond to the bigger forces affecting their working lives today.

Redesigning Work provides that evidence, using workforce surveys and public opinion polls conducted by EKOS Research Associates. The book’s foundation is the most extensive data bank currently available of Canadians’ work experiences, reactions to social change and concerns about the economy and labour market. In every chapter, we build our analysis and arguments on the rich and previously unpublished EKOS data from hundreds of surveys since the mid-1990s. These surveys describe through the eyes of individual Canadians the relentless forces shaping the world of work. And it’s from this vantage point of Canadian workers that we have designed a blueprint for a better future of work.

The topics we address in the book – public attitudes to economic change, workers’ wellbeing, work motivations and values, workforce demographics, job skills and training, and how to design higher-quality work – have been of keen interest to us for over 25 years.  Redesigning Work is the result of a long partnership that has evolved around these future-of-work issues.

EKOS’s polls started tracking Canadian’s reactions to massive shocks to the economy and the labour market in the early 1990s, during a deep recession and subsequent ‘jobless’ recovery. In 2004, we co-designed and conducted a survey of the Canadian workforce, Rethinking Work, to document early 21st century workforce and workplace trends. This was a syndicated project sponsored by government and corporate clients, so the project’s results had limited circulation – until now.

Then along came the global financial crisis and the Great Recession of 2008 – 2009. EKOS polls tracked Canadians’ reactions to the recession, but missing was a detailed picture of how all this economic turbulence had transformed people’s work. Using the 2004 Rethinking Work project as a pre-recession base-line, we repeated most of the same measures in a 2012 survey of the Canadian workforce. We then had pre- and post-recession measures of key job and labour market indicators. Yet we remained concerned that the 2012 survey findings may be transitory. So EKOS conducted a shortened version of the Rethinking Work survey in early 2015. Essentially it confirmed that what we documented in 2012 was, unfortunately, the new normal. We make extensive use of all these surveys in Redesigning Work.

There’s one EKOS poll finding that, for us, signals a readiness for the changes proposed in Redesigning Work. For the past several years, 80% or more of Canadians polled by EKOS have agreed that “Canada needs a clearer plan or blueprint to restore a growing and optimistic middle class.” That’s where our idea for a “blueprint for wellbeing and prosperity” comes from: the many thousands of citizens responding to this question in EKOS polls. Indeed, we believe that all of the ingredients for a return to shared prosperity are in place. It is our sincere hope that the lessons we have learned from the evolution of Canadians’ working lives can help point the way to greater wellbeing and prosperity in the future.

You can learn more about the authors and Redesigning Work on their website.

Building Innovation into Organizations with Kevin Desouza

On April 3rd, 2012, Kevin Desouza spoke at the Rotman School of Management as part of the Entrepreneurship Experts Speaker Series. Kevin Desouza is the author of Intrapreneurship.

Dr. Kevin Desouza’s recent talk at Rotman focused on how to build innovation into organizations as a competency. Dr. Desouza engaged the business executives in attendance with a focus on how “everyday” people who work on ideas innovate within their jobs and organizations. He described in broad strokes the idea management process detailed in his recent book, Intrapreneurship, with particular attention to the high-value activities of idea advocacy and experimentation.

Here’s a video of Kevin Desouza’s talk.
Kevin Desouza at Rotman

For more visit kevindesouza.net.

Five Simple Rules for Managing Your Ideas within Your Organization

I have been humbled by the feedback that I have received on my book, Intrapreneurship: Managing Ideas within Your Organization. While all readers have provided me with interesting insights on how ideas are managed within their organization, a handful have gone further, asking me some (difficult) questions. I will tackle an easy question in this blog post – “Can you give me a few simple rules that I can use to get better at managing ideas?”  Variants of this question were posed by several readers who could relate to the frustrations employees face when it comes to leveraging their ideas. Little over a year back, I was invited to keynote a Center of Excellence for Biosensors, Instrumentation, and Process Control meeting held at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. My talk, Ten Rules of Leveraging Ideas for Innovation, will serve as the foundation for my five simple rules.

In this blog post, I will focus on the employee perspective; in a future post, I will share five elements that managers should pay attention to.

1.    You are better served by generating a handful of ideas that you believe in and are willing to take risks on, rather than swimming in an ocean of ideas that are half-baked:
We all love ideas and sharing ideas. We all think we have good ideas. Do not be scattered in your pursuit of ideas, and do not jump at every opportunity with ideas. Take a step back and evaluate all of the ideas that you have. Now, think deeply about which ideas you want to risk your career on, which ideas you would invest your personal resources into, and which ideas are fundamental to your value system. Focus on these with vigor. If you do not have a lot of ideas, then take time to think about opportunities (and problems) within your organization that you care about.  Channel your creativity toward these issues in terms of generating ideas.

2.    Generating ideas requires a balance between environments where we play and study: Move around, try new environments, interact with problems in new settings, and even have fun and play. Too often we stay fixed at our desks or go to the same conference room to hammer out solutions for a problem. Only on rare occasions is playing at work authorized (Think about your last retreat). To generate good ideas you need to study and play, and rotate between the two vastly different environments on a regular basis. Playful environments allow you think outside-the-box (or as though there is no box) and allow creativity to realize itself in emergent ways for exploration. Environments of study promote focus, deep dives into problems, and the ability to exploit knowledge. Oscillate between diverse environments when working on your ideas.

3.    Ideas advocacy is more important than idea screening: You, and your organization, spend an inordinate amount of time screening ideas. There are project reviews, idea screening checklists, and even fancy spreadsheets to review the ROI of an idea. Take the time to stick your neck out for ideas. Advocate for ideas, communicate and endorse good ideas, and support the ideas of your peers. Advocacy is a critical capability when it comes to managing ideas, but it is lost in most organizations. Unless an organization builds a capacity for advocacy, good ideas will never move from the lower echelons of the organization to the top, or even from one unit to another laterally.

4.    Do not dismiss ideas without experimenting with them: We are all experimenters. We experiment on a daily basis to guide our decision-making, learning, and actions. Yet, when it comes to ideas, we often dismiss them without a lot of analysis. We rely on our hunches and gut-feelings most of the time, resulting in incomplete analysis of an idea’s potential. Experiment with ideas, do not just discard them. Take an idea, frame a hypotheses (e.g. if we implement this idea, customers will be happy or our operational costs will fall), then conduct small experiments (e.g. gather customer feedback, prototype the solution), gather information and analyze it, and then arrive at conclusions about how the idea can be refined, improved, re-conceptualized (or even discarded). Making experimentation a natural element of how you work with ideas is fundamental to improving your success with managing ideas.

5.    Diffusing ideas requires sound network management capabilities: The vast majority of an idea’s success (or failure) can be traced to the networks of the idea creator. Often good ideas fall on deaf ears, or the wrong ears (e.g. those who are envious and perceive the idea as a threat). Successful intrapreneurs have robust professional, and personal, networks. They are deliberate about the people with whom they network; they manage their networks as they would any other asset. They employ their networks to test out ideas, diffuse initial concepts, and even recruit investors. Good ideas seldom just get ‘picked up’ – they must be shepherded through the organization. Toward this end, it is vital that you have a network which can propel the idea forward, amplify as it moves from one desk to another, and garner more support. Managing your network is essential if you want to be successful at leveraging your ideas.

So, there you have it, five simple rules that will increase your chances of leveraging your ideas within your organization. Be disciplined, and do not despair if the first time you put one of these rules to the test, things do not pan out.  Persevere and stay focused, and I am quite certain that the results will surprise you.  Of course, you can get the entire scoop on how to succeed at intrapreneurship by picking up the book!

Kevin C. Desouza is the Director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech and author of Intrapreneurship: Managing Ideas within Your Organization.
You can reach him at kev.desouza@gmail.com.

Creating Healthy Organizations

The Rotman School of Management marked Healthy Workplaces Month with an event on October 20th focusing on “The Stigma of Mental Health Issues in the Workplace and What We Can Do About It,” moderated by Dr. Melanie Carr.  Dr. David Goldbloom of CAMH and the University of Toronto spoke about the concept of stigma and how it originates in an attempt to explain the persistence of the stigmatization of mental health issues in Canadian society, and by turn in our workplaces. Rotman/UTP Publishing author Graham Lowe tackled the topic from a different perspective–that of the psychologically healthy workplace.  His talk, rooted in material from his book Creating Healthy Organizations, addressed the organizational view of stigma, the ingredients of workplace well-being, and specific actions to take within organizations.  Graham’s presentation slides are available for download at his website: http://www.grahamlowe.ca/documents/255/