ADVISORY e-ALERT     September 29, 2010
 
Advisory Law Group, a Professional Corporation
 
 
                                     
 
HARNESSING THE PSYCHOLOGY OF GROUP PRESSURE IN CONTRACT NEGOTIATION
 
 
Scuba divers learn never to dive alone; for safety, they dive with a buddy.
 
Yet, if you're like most medical group leaders, you don't think twice about attending, alone, a meeting or negotiation session.  Perhaps you, too, need a buddy.
 
Flashback to college.  You're taking Psych 101 and you're required to "volunteer" as the subject for a psych experiment.  You step into a room with a group of four other students.  The researcher tells you that a series of posters will be shown one at a time, each poster displaying a number of dark lines and that each of you is to announce which two of the lines are of the same length.  You're sitting in the fifth position, you'll be asked for your response last.
 
As the slides begin to progress, it's obvious to you, and to your fellow participants, which two lines match.  But then, after a few minutes, the other students begin "matching" another set of lines, lines that you see as completely mismatched.  What match do you announce?
 
Of course, the other four students are confederates of the researcher.  In this experiment of the type first conducted by Solomon Asch, a Swarthmore College professor, in 1951, the confederates were purposely answering incorrectly to see if you would, too.  In the Asch experiment, about a third of responses given by the subjects conformed to the confederates' erroneous pronouncements; 75% of the participants agreed with the "mistaken" position of the confederates some of the time.
 
Many physician group leaders view themselves as rugged individualists.  You'd never fall sway to group pressure, especially manipulative group pressure.
 
While that might be true, the Asch experiment indicates that, as in scuba diving, there's a lack of safety when outnumbered, even if you know that the others are wrong.
 
Upon querying the subjects who caved in, Asch discovered several categories of explanation.  Some said that they themselves were wrong and that the others were right, so they agreed.  Others said they went along with the incorrect answer in order not to spoil the results.  Some said that even though they knew that the others were wrong or acting like sheep, they could not stop themselves from agreeing, too.  Finally, some said that they saw their disparate view as a sign of a deficiency which they must hide.
 
The Asch experiment did not single out weak subjects.  He found that in a two person "group," one confederate and one real subject, the subject was not impacted to any real degree.  A two confederate to one subject ratio caused the subject to agree with the erroneous viewpoint close to 14% of the time.  But add just one more confederate to the mix, three confederates to one subject, and the subjects' conformity rate more than doubled to almost 32%.
 
Practical Lessons
 
Getting back to your meeting with a hospital administrator or the other side in a business deal, if it's to be one on one, assuming your strong personality, there's relatively little danger in being swayed against your will.
 
Many hospital administrators and other professional dealmakers know better than to meet alone; they love team meetings - their team of course, with you present.  Want to discuss acquiring new imaging equipment?  Fine, says the CEO, meet with me at 4:00 and I'll have the COO, the CFO and the administrative director of radiology services attend so that we can get their "input."  Right . . . 
 
Asch discovered that having even one truthful partner depleted the majority of most of its power.  So, before attending a meeting with the opposition, arrange to bring along a buddy.  In fact, make the buddy system your group's regular meeting paradigm - but do preparation work first to make sure that your buddy is going to agree with you no matter what:  The buddy must understand that the meeting is not an open discussion, his presence is to support, in lockstep fashion, your position.
 
Better yet, attempt to design encounters that stack the "Asch" odds in your favor.  If possible, instead of having just one colleague accompany you, bring along two or more colleagues to create positive group pressure.
 
Difficult to schedule, yes. Costly?  It all depends.  If you're measuring only the immediate impact on lost billings, yes.
 
But that's short sighted, as the only correct way to measure the cost is to consider the return on investment.  I guarantee you that if you've reached the face to face stage of any negotiation with a hospital or another sophisticated player in the healthcare arena, they've already calculated negotiating ROI from their perspective.
 
To learn more about how you can profit from our involvement in your contractual relations, contact Mark F. Weiss now. 
 
 
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HIJACK THE ACO FORMATION PROCESS
 
 

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In This Issue
Harnessing Group Pressure in Negotiation
Videocast: Hijack The ACO Formation Process
The e-Alert Archive
Complimentary Copy of 2010 Update
The Immediate Leader Experience
Mentor Program
The Wisdom. Applied. Blog
 
 
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THE IMMEDIATE LEADER EXPERIENCE™ 
 
 
 

You're a physician who wants to form a medical group and, among other things, subcontract with or employ other physicians, enter into exclusive contacts, obtain significant stipend support money, create related entities to increase protection and the like. And you want to come up to speed on all of this immediately.

Or, you're the new leader of an existing group with complex practice and business operations -- you need to understand how to master the group's organizational, operational and leadership issues -- and you need to be brought up to speed immediately.
 
After having regularly dealt for many years with physicians in both of these contexts, we've designed a process to deliver immediate results: The Immediate Leader Experience™.
 
The Immediate Leader Experience™ takes place over a weekend in Santa Barbara, California and includes two nights accommodation at the Four Seasons Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel. 
 
In two short days, you'll be entirely up to speed, totally prepared and confident.  You'll be armed with tools and sample documents.
 
Due to the nature of this program, admission is upon interview only -- there is extremely limited availability.
 
For further information on The Immediate Leader Experience™ follow this link.  
MENTOR PROGRAM 
For information on Mark's mentor program, click on the following link:  The Advisor Program.
 
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