Mar 4 2005

Counter Cliche: Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There

Counter Cliche:  Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There

Fred had a great posting the other day about Analysis Paralysis.  And he’s right, a lot of the time.  But I’ve always thought that Newton’s third law of motion can be applied to cliches — that every cliche has an equal and opposite cliche (think “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” vs. “Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder”).

The counter cliche to Analysis Paralysis is “Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There” — another great lesson taught to me by my old boss at MovieFone.  While startup businesses generally do need to move quickly and nimbly, there are times and places, particularly when negotiating something, where stopping or moving very slowly works to your advantage.  This can be true in any situation — hiring someone, working on a strategic partnership, acquiring a company or selling your own company, and yes, on occasion, even in closing business with a client.

Slowing down or stopping a negotiation helps you accomplish two critical things to achieving an optimal result:

1. It allows you to gain a little perspective on what you’re negotiating and consider other alternatives.  It’s easy to get caught up in the heat of a negotiation.  While that negotiating process can be addictive, you always want to make sure you really want what you’re going after and that you’ve taken every step you can to shore up your alternatives.

2. It lets you see how important the deal is to the other party.  If you change the pace of a negotiation, you can more easily see how the other party responds to that change of pace.  Do they fade away, or do they keep calling and pressing for forward movement?

There’s a time and a place for everything in a startup.  Sometimes it’s to run hard, but sometimes it’s to stand still.