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World's smallest (effective) Confrontation Management model?

July 26, 2006

Last month, over dinner, one of our corporate clients was relating his frustration over his relationship with a supplier. Our client, wearing one of our many hats, is a Value Added Reseller of products targeted at the pharmaceutical industry.

His frustration was due to his supplier's attempts to make our client market the product in a way that (he thought) would alienate his customers. After listening to his tale of woe we sketched out the Options Board shown in Figure 1 (produced using Confrontation Manager™) on a scrap of paper (those unfamiliar with Options Boards may wish to read our white paper on the subject).

World's smallest (effective) Options Board?

Figure 1: World's smallest (effective) Options Board?

We explained to our client that his initial description of his confrontation had not mentioned any of the options being "wielded" by his supplier and, consequently, he (our client) had carte blanche to pursue his own marketing approach.

At this point, we fully expected him to respond with a set of reasons why this was not the case. Instead, he thought for a minute, then exclaimed, "Yes! Of course!" He excused himself from the table and went outside to make some calls. Returning to the table, with a beaming smile, he announced, "All sorted!" It turns out that he become so deeply involved in the detail of the "confrontation" that he'd lost sight of the fact that his supplier's view amounted to no more than an opinion! Formal modeling brought this fact to the fore.

It has to be said, we were slightly unnerved about this turn of events. While our client's description of his confrontation showed him to have no dilemmas, the supplier faced two — Rejection and Persuasion dilemmas — which would be likely to result in them searching for options to assert their own position. However, subsequent discussion revealed that he had considered this and decided that they would be highly unlikely to pursue any of the options available to them.

Consulting really shouldn't be that easy — or we'll all be out of a job...

Confrontation Manager and Confrontation Management are trademarks of Idea Sciences, Inc.