I had been meaning to write about this for some time but something always came up. So here we go. Just a little piece about a mistake we made during the project that ended up costing us a great deal of time and effort to put right.
In our negotiations with Kingston first the operators of (the site we are going to occupy) we adopted a policy of deliberate ambiguity. The ambiguity surrounded what we were going to offer in return for them allowing us to use the site to set up The Work Shop.
What we failed to notice was you cannot benefit from muddying the water if you are the fish. Unbeknown to us that was exactly what we were, the fish. In other words this policy only works if you are negotiating from a position of power or at the very least you are on equal terms with respect to what you are able to bring to the negotiating table. In this case we were negotiating with an organisation that would have gone on doing what they were doing with or without us. They really weren’t that bothered if we succeeded or not but we were desperate and it showed.
So when we thought we were engaging in a bit of clever bargaining we were in fact making a rod for our own back.
We were warned about this by people advising us in FADA and we ignored this advice at our peril. What ensued as a result was what the military types would call “mission creep”. This is when an operation with a limited scope designed to accomplish a given goal through a number of pre-planned engagements spiral out of control and become a protracted and costly affair. Often, this occurs as a result of a misplaced perceived sense of superiority.
That is exactly what we did. We went on to say things like “well, perhaps we could do this or that but we’re not sure let’s see “thinking we could always just say no later. What actually happened was that having sensed or desperation Kingston First was taking notes on all of the things we were offering and then turned around and demanded that we do all of those things or else there would be no deal. We were stuck! We had no leverage to bargain with them. It was stupid really. Don’t do it!