Negotiation Milestones (JH)

James Hamilton

First negotiation

  • for a joint venture (with the Fortune 500 International Paper, Teheran, Iran) ´78
  • for construction subcontracting (eight figures, Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) ´79
  • with a Ministry of Defense (Cairo, Egypt) ´80
  • with labor representatives (Lion Chemicals, a wholly owned subsidiary of Olin Corp. a Fortune 500 company, Johannesburg, South Africa)´81

   * to sell a turnkey factory (by Olin Corp. a Fortune 500 company, Zürich,      Switzerland)´82

  • related to closing down a subsidiary (IIFC, of Xerox Corp. San Francisco, USA) ´86
  • to hold seminars (jointly developed by AT&T and the Small Business Administration about international business, San Francisco, USA) ´88

   * for a position as CEO (of BFS GmbH, Munich, Germany) ´90

   * to sell a company to a conglomerate (BFS to Krupp AG, Germany) ´94

  • for venture capital (The Net Company, Inc., Jacksonville, Florida, USA) ´98

   * for methods claims for a patent (Munich Patent Office, Germany) ´99

  • for a tax re-appraisal of commercial real estate (Columbia, S.C., USA) 2002

   * for licensing (FAIST Systeme GmbH, Untermeitlingen, Germany) 2006

  • for a nuptial contract (Asia) 20101
  • = conducted in English

   * = conducted in German


1 This negotiation was one of the most interesting – and challenging – ones ever participated in as an outside advisor (coach). One betrothed is the CEO of a traditional, low-tech, large plodding cash cow. The other is the president and founder of a tiny high-tech shooting star. The challenge is to rescue the tiny scintillating star from the massive, inexorably plodding cow. How does one hinder the asset stripping (IT infrastructure) of the star and discourage its being promptly extinguished upon conclusion of the nuptials?

    Regrettably, the negotiation was not conducted in good faith, the deal not honored. The glorious shooting star had its evanescent moment, streaking across the sky, before being extinguished. Lessons learned: (1) Culture kills strategy! (2) There was tremendous pressure to close the deal (i.e. marry) quickly, not in six months, not in three months, but now, immediately. That red flag was noted, but not sufficiently heeded. (3) When the power is lopsided, pay close attention to the consequences for reneging on the deal.

    In this case, the only option, given the cultural context, is MAD: Mutual Assured Destruction, i.e. divorce. The circumstances are such that MAD is not a credible threat for any misconduct short of repeated domestic violence. Hence the weaker party is powerless, completely at the mercy of the stronger one.