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We give you actionable advice so you can elevate your influence through purposeful negotiation—helping you overcome the hurdles you face in business and life to become even more successful.
Welcome back to the NEGOTIATEx podcast! Today our hosts tackle Network Mapping, or the study of the physical connectivity of networks. Your team starts on a grateful note, expressing their admiration for the amazing colleagues they’ve worked with and a supportive team who have stuck by from day one. Nolan gets the discussion off the ground by talking about his teachings in the military on how network mapping works: how some people can be positively influenced by an individual’s point of view and others who push back against it.
For Aram, it does not matter what field a person might be engaged in, or what profession they have chosen. As a military strategist or a business strategist, in the end it’s all about mapping a good analysis of the particular terrain they are in.
While negotiating, Aram underlines the importance of understanding human psychology and those who make up the ecosystem of a business or an institution. While negotiating, the prime focus should be on understanding the person on the other side of the table, to know if they are for or against the negotiation.
As everything around the world changes, it’s crucial to know that relationships change too over time. Aram speaks about how negotiation is based on these changes- the evolution which happens, not overnight, but as a result of incremental developments happening every day. The changes are beneficial for interactions and relationship building as they make negotiating better and smarter.
Aram reiterates the importance of mapping and how it can qualify the changes and capture it into different phrases. These mappings which relate to relationship mapping, network mapping, and professional mapping ultimately solve the question of end goals and achievements.
To emphasize the different focal points on the map, he suggests creating different circles; bigger for those which are important and needed to be addressed immediately and smaller for those who have lesser influence.
There are connections between the points that are marked on the map that tells a story. For example, Aram utilizes the point of understanding what one true goal is or what one position is on the map by understanding who the players are and their connections with each other.
Every little blocker and hurdle is needed to be mapped out so that it creates a path of least resistance. For Nolan, the stakeholder map is best for a single negotiation. Since people have varying viewpoints on different topics, it’s important to negotiate once and clearly so that it doesn’t create any confusion in the future.
While negotiating, Nolan pinpoints the idea of understanding all the players so that it becomes easy to grasp how influential they are and what levers need to be turned to get to the desired outcome.
Creating a network map involves learning about a single individual, letting them lead you to the next person and eventually, having a layout or a map where all the different personalities and egos become easier to navigate.
Aram narrates that it was a painful journey spending two weeks in Afghanistan mapping out the environment. As it was a hard process to come by, Aram focuses on the ideals which were taught in the way moving forward such as understanding where people’s interests lie. This effort paid off as for the next year, officers used Aram’s network maps to formulate key strategies.
Aram recites about focusing the network map on the monitoring value committee of Afghanistan handling out corruption, as it was an engaging conversation regarding knowing the person’s interests and the process flow and how people loved to do the work, which was an eye-opening scenario. For negotiating better, the idea is to settle on a practice or prep for the big show before while taking the time.
While it’s essential to negotiate with people who are involved as parties, it’s important to know who’s the blocker and who’s the enabler. As Aram recalls, a fine semi-annual meeting was met by a blocker because everyone was too lazy to map out the blockers and negotiate with them 6 months before the meeting happened.
Thus, it’s important to understand every investor, stakeholder, and person in charge of interest who can be influential in the proposal being drafted. In Aram’s words, it’s more like a tactical prep that helps everyone to gear up and be strategic while negotiating.
Thank you for listening.
NM : Hello, and welcome to another episode of the NEGOTIATEx podcast. I am your co-host and co-founder Nolan Martin.With me today is my good friend Aram.For those of you who do not know Aram, is a visiting professor at Dartmouth’sTuck School of Business, he teaches negotiations there, and he's been essentially teaching negotiations for more than 12 years now at colleges at the undergraduate and graduate levels; phenomenal person, phenomenal individual, and always the star of the show from what everyone tells me, Aram, here on the NEGOTIATEx podcast.
AD : Yeah. So now, our friends who are listening Nolan, know that you're just kind of making stuff up, making me sound good, but that's, that's very kind of you.And, you know, folks who are listening, I'll just say that you know, we've been blessed Nolan and I both with so many great colleagues and friends who've impacted how we approach negotiations over the years. So, thanks again to our friends at Vantage partners who allow us to do this and, and to others who just, again, invest, have invested in us. So very appreciative and hope that some of the things we share through these podcasts are helpful to you.
NM : Yep. Thanks Aram. And so today I want to talk about network mapping and this was a real A-ha moment when I was teaching military organization on how to better understand influence and how to find people who may support your negotiation, your view, your desired outcome, and kind of figure out all the people that are in-between all the way to the ones who are adamantly against it. And so I wanna kind of talk through not only network mapping, why do we do it? How do we do it? And then talk about how we can best use this approach to really help us in the negotiation process. How does all that sound air?
AD : Yeah, it sounds great. You know, the “why” is always interesting on why you spend time doing this and, and folks, this is one of the things that's hard to maybe talk about this. It's much easier to sit down and do- we'll get to the do in a moment- I'll ask Nolan about how, how they ran that during the program which can be really helpful, but the why is whether you are a business strategist or a military strategist or whoever you might be doing, what we used to call intelligence preparation, the battlefield, and really doing good analysis around the terrain so important. And this is just understanding the human terrain. This is understanding the people that make up the ecosystem that you are weeding into when you negotiate. And it doesn't matter whether, I mean, incredibly helpful, if this is a multi-party negotiation, you wanna know where everybody's coming from and who's all behind them and everything else. It's also helpful just in a simple two-party negotiation. If I'm negotiating with Nolan to know who are the influencers on him, who are gonna be the blockers to any possible agreement, who is it that he's really gotta keep happy? That's if I understand that stuff, it's gonna make it a lot easier when Nolan and I kind of go to sit down. Nolan what did I miss on kind of the why we do this? I think it's important for people to understand why we spend time.
NM : Yeah. I think it's important to understand that this is a, a complex part of the negotiation that you really need to understand. And once you start to do, it's going to help you be a lot more effective. And just like this, you're not gonna know 90% of the answers. And so figuring out where to test those assumptions to figure out okay, who knows of someone who knows someone to figure out if that person is for or against the negotiation?So,it's definitely a work in progress. It's not gonna be a solid answer, but it can help you figure out how to better get the desired end result that you're looking for. So it's very important.
AD : That's well said. Yeah and I think that for folks to remember, as we talk about kinda what it is, this is a snapshot in time. It changes just like all ecosystems change.Networks change as relationships build, we're gonna talk about different types of relationships here and stuff. Soit's gonna evolve and change. You're gonna, you know, you'll update the network map or, or stakeholder map or relationship map, whatever you wanna call it there, you're gonna change it. And it, it really helps us. I mean, the other, the why there that no one was getting to was helps us make better decisions. Right. It helps us make wise decisions that are probably gonna be longer lasting. If it was interesting. Last time I bought, we bought the home that we live in now, if somebody had just been negotiating with me, they would've been missing the point, right. I mean, my wife, my kids were all involved. My place of work was involved. My parents were involved in that. I mean, there was so many kind of different influencers. And I really think what was neat was the realtor we worked through, I think really understood that really well, to his credit.That really helped us make better decisions and how we present information to people.
NM : Yeah. And I think this is why every single salesman, if I'm with my wife is always talking to my wife and not necessarily to me cuz they know that if they were able to sell my wife, then most likely they were able to convert on that sell regardless of what my interests were in that negotiation. So I think what's gonna be important here is to figure out the different levels for understanding the network mapping, you know, again, this is a complex scenario, let's figure out how do we break this down to figure out how best to use this tool?
AD : Yeah. So there's a few simple steps, right? If you're gonna build a network map, a stakeholder map, relationship map, I use all those terms kind of interchangeably. Some folksmight not. So a few things, first of all, as I wade into this ecosystem of people, this network of folks, what are my objectives? What am I trying to achieve? Then I need to identify who the key stakeholders are.What organization are they part of? How much power do they hold? Are they for against perhaps the proposal? And that takes a little work to understand all the people. And sometimes I'm uncovering folks, I didn't know existed. Then I'm gonna say I got all these sorts of little people on my map. And I often identify them as circles, bigger circles for more power, smaller circles for less power using little annotation about, you know, are they for it or against it plus, and minus signs, do I not know, maybe are they in different, whatever it might be using different symbols for that.Build the map.
And then I say, Hey, these folks are connected, right? We don't live in these silos. So these people are connected in some way. What do I know about them? What have they said before? What have people who've met with them before said, they said just based on maybe organizational structure or how can I assume that they are connected? We think of connections in terms of, deference- I will do what you say; influence- I'm influenced by you, but I still kind of make my own vote; antagonism-what if you're for it, I'm against it, sort of thing. And all three of those relationships, exist in any network. And that's a, that's a fairly simplistic way of putting it, but it works right. Andwe create a diagram now of these people on a sheet of paper and they're connected through any one of those sorts of relationships.
And then once we understand who are the players and how they're connected and where we fall onto the map, we look at those and we say, how do we leverage these connections to develop a plan of action? And how do we wade into it? Who can I talk to? To get a face to face with the key decision maker, who can go to the key decision maker on their own? Who can I learn from, understanding why the key decision maker may be indifferent or may be opposed to this time who else shares that perspective or who's well connected, but maybe favorable, right? Who can form- helps me make a number of decisions there? I'm curious. So that's, that's the, how you do it folks and Nolancan maybe explain that more. Nolan did you actually practice this with the last group you were training? Did you pull out a sheet and, and allow them to do a little work on this thing? Yeah,
NM : Absolutely. We pulled out a big sheet and basically broke it down into the like blockers, tacklers, enablers, basically taking the same sort of framework to draw this out. But what we soon started to realize is that there is a way to get to the point of what you need to get to the key decision maker, where you could avoid the path of least resistance. Sorry, you could take the path of least resistance and avoid where you would run into any resistance. So sometimes there's a chance that you can go around the person who is adamantly against whatever you're negotiating and go to someone who just has a different level of access to that key decision maker. And what I think we need to realize is that the stakeholder map is only good for a single instance in time for a single negotiation. If this is continued negotiations against a multiple of different things, then you're basically going to need to take it and refresh it for each different negotiation because people have different viewpoints on different topics. And so they're not always going to be for, or against what you're trying to bring to the negotiation table. So I think it's just important distinction.
AD : And what I would add is that, that refreshing is actually much easier done than it kind of maybe sounds like once you get your initial map made a lot of things will hold true in terms of nature, relationships and stuff.But those relationships can be, you know, very specific to, to the issue. I'm curious Nolan, when, as you did this work and I, I, I know the audience, we're not gonna name 'em, but I know the audience you're working with. I mean, these are some very talented, smart military folks, who do this sort of work. What was their kind of response to the exercise and the practice of this? Did they enjoy it?
NM : So they all walked away saying that this is the greatest tool, pretty much the best highlight of the three or five days of training, which I don't know if that's a good or bad thing, cuz that means [laughs] that they could have just got this tool. We could have explained it and they could have been on their way. No, I'm just kidding. I know that they enjoyed the whole thing, but that literally they've been trying to figure out a way to succinctly be able to capture this onto one sheet so that they could understand the different players in a negotiation and really understand where the influence lies and what levers we can pull to get there. And so I think a hands down overwhelmingly positive to use this tool to understand cuz I mean, it's just such a complex environment. And as you start to learn about someone, you start to learn about someone else and someone else.But eventually once you're able to lay the network and actually understand as best you can, you can really figure out how to best navigate it, to get the answer that you need. So,
AD : Yeah. Yeah. I'm not surprised by that response, having done this work, both doing this work myself, but also in terms ofhelping others do it, I can think of some clients in the financial sector and some in the tech sectorwith who we sit down and do this. And what they will say is that they'll say I knew all of this. It was up here in my head, but as Nolan is saying, it's so complex, it's really hard to kind of see the forest through the trees. And, and I can't, it's not helpful to have it all up here, but I get it out and I map this whole thing out and it allows me to maybe see my decisions a little differently and who are the players and, and key actors a little differently. But I often tell folks when we, when I cover this, I, I spent two weeks when I first got to back to Afghanistan, 2011 and doing some different work there at ISA headquarters.
I spent two weeks just mapping the environment and it was painful, you know, 8, 10, 12 hour days doing nothing but mapping. But the work I did really drove a lot of the decisions and some of our engagement plans for the next year. So it was really, really useful. And it, it also educated me because as I did this, I learned about people's interests. I find it very engaging to practice, this is something that, as folks are listening ever want, no. And I sit down with you and do some of this work. It's very engaging. I remember the leader of the-what we called the monitoring valuing committee in Afghanistan who watched funds coming into country and how they were being used. Looking for instances of corruption. We engagedthe organizational leader, once with a relationship, big stakeholder map as, as she was trying to achieve some initiatives.
And it was one of the most engaging conversations we ever had, as she said, “Ah, you forgot so and so”, and she'd draw 'em in on this big sheet of paper. And she said, ah, and that's not the relationship at all that would've been true on another issue or that would've been true a year ago, but things have changed and now it's very antagonistic and it was just a very engaging conversation and that's totally fine. This is people, people love to do this work and they find it very eye-opening, as they do it.
NM : Yeah, absolutely. And it's one of those things that we say is just critical when you're actually talking about doing a very important negotiation to take the time. I mean, we always talk about prep. We always talk about that. It's gonna be the most useful, however long you can spend for your negotiation is, is all the prep work. This is definitely part of that prep work. And it's definitely, even if you have a continued negotiation to continue refining this, it's gonna get easier. As Aram already said, once you get everything on the paper to continue to refine it and just make it that golden product to be able to really enable you to get to your desired end state.
AD : Sorry, Noah, let me add: one, what a great thing to pass off if you're moving outta your position and somebody else is coming in to be able to pass off to them, this living document, we are talking about an educational item for an organization to learn from. So that's one. And then the other thing I was gonna say is I know that this is important work to do, and I myself sometimes will skip over this and I, I ask people why they don't do it. And there's like, I'm so busy doing, I don't spend the time to put this stuff down. And that's a real, I mean, I'll just my example is I was working at an institution here in the us. We were doing some change work around how leadership curriculum should be taught. And we were developing a proposal that needed the blessing of three separate organizations at this, this big semi-annual meeting where the night before the semi-annual meeting, we've been working on this thing for six months and I get a call that a certain person who's in one of those, who's actually one of the key decision makers in one of those organizations is upset.
And I said, who is that? And they tell me who it is. And I said, I didn't even know about them, nor did I know they could be a blocker, right. Could have probably been an enabler. Had I engaged this individual six months before, but I didn't do the work I was lazy. And so here we are now at the 11th hour trying to get something through and this person is a blocker, really just a blocker because hadn't been informed, not, not because of right. And so do the work folks, you will make your life easier. You will increase the likelihood of, of proposals, you know, sailing through if you know who all the, the, the, the people are that are engaged and involved, with the negotiation.
NM : That's an awesome illustration and really gets at the importance of this whole thing. SoAram, this is a podcast that is all about elevating your influence through purposeful negotiation. So with that, what are some key takeaways from today's episode?
AD : Yeah. So don't make the assumption that you have all the knowledge on the map of, of people that, that you're gonna be working with, spend the time to get it right. And really, really think about other stakeholders who might have a relevant voice to whatever your proposal is. Uh, so do that. And then two, please. I, you know, I just say this is it's fun work. It's really interesting work. It helps us understand the nature of your problems, reach out to myself and Nolan and, and let us know if we can help you help you do this. This is something that, uh, we'll, we'll need to develop our own worksheet for Nolan and, and get that out to folks. Cause I think, uh, in addition to kind of their tactical level prep, uh, this would be a really useful kind of strategic tool.
NM : Absolutely. That is it then for today's episode. So if you have any questions, anything you wanna cover, anything like that, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you can please subscribe, leave us a review. Anything is going to help our podcast, keep gaining popularity. We appreciate those of you have done that already. And with that, we're gonna see in the next episode.
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