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Robin Copland
© Slawomir Kruz | Shutterstock.com

When you think about it, it’s some kind of change that moves parties toward the kinds of conflict that often results in the need to negotiate an agreement.

Sometimes, the change is self-imposed, for example

  • Clients or customers decide to rationalize their supply chain
  • Sellers decide that concessions made in the past have resulted in agreements that no longer pass the commercial test
  • Changes in personnel or company policy

But then, on other occasions, the change is imposed by government policy or macro-economic circumstances beyond our control.  Right now, Brexit and the need to clean up our collective act environmentally are the two big issues of the moment in the UK and both will have a profound effect on the relationships that exist between economic groups, countries, organisations and even right down to the personal interactions between people.

Tesla seems to have stolen a march on its competitors with their electric cars.  All other manufacturers now find themselves in a rush to catch up.  They need to open new supply chains with manufacturers of whom they would never have heard ten years ago.  According to an article in idtechex.com, “Car Traction Batteries – the New Gold Rush 2010-2020”, the predicted market in car batteries is $37 billion by 2020.  Whatever way you cut it, that’s a big number and Audi, BMW and Mercedes, to name but three have been knocking on battery manufacturer’s doors for the past five or six years, where before they would have looked down their noses at them from on high as they strove to make the then fashionable fuel, diesel, more acceptable by producing cleaner and more powerful diesel engines.

In the UK, the enormous problem that our politicians face is the need to radically upscale the number and the speed of charging points throughout the country.  It is all very well them setting targets for the number of battery-powered cars on our roads by such-and-such a date, but if we can’t fill them up conveniently in about five minutes at charging stations, then it’s a case of “Houston, we have a problem…”.  New negotiations will ensue between different companies.  New problems in these new relationships will ensure the need to continue to find negotiated settlements.

Cheap flights.  A relatively recent innovation that has resulted in stag and hen parties relocating from a boozy night out around the corner at the Dog and Duck to a four-night boozefest at The Lion and Ball Sports Bar in Prague.  My local airport in Edinburgh continues to grow like a bodybuilder on fast-acting steroids, but I predict that something is going to give in the next five years.  Either the world finds a new clean-burning fuel that keeps planes up in the air without melting the ice caps or the price of flying has to go up dramatically to drop demand and get us back to an environmentally sustainable level of flights.  Not good news for EasyJet, Ryanair, the city fathers of Prague or the proprietors of the Lion and Ball Sports Bar and – guess what – the change will result in the need to hone those negotiating skills again.

Wind turbines.  You’ll love this.  There is a new wind farm being commissioned off the coast of Scotland.  There is a wind farm factory in Burntisland in Fife.  Never been there?  Look, if you live there, it’s a lovely spot, but it is not Paris.  Anyhow, they are proposing to manufacture the turbines somewhere in China, chuck them all in a very big boat, start up the very big boat’s very big and powerful diesel engines and then transport said wind turbines halfway around the world so that we can save the planet.  You couldn’t make it up.  But apparently, the turbines will be cheaper.  So that’s OK.

It is even affecting Scotwork!  Some companies now insist that training events are carried out as cleanly as possible.  “Mr Copland – you want to run a course for us in South-east England, which means a flight or train journey south from the body-builder airport.  And there isn’t a South-east based consultant, Mr Copland?”

Scotwork, you will be interested to read, has consultants all over the world in all kinds of different locations, so you will be pleased to know that you may not have to fly us to run your courses.  Just saying!

Change; conflict; negotiation – they’re what makes the world go round.  And the rest of us just have to try to hang on in there.

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