There is no lack of challenges for the Flemish public broadcaster VRT. “We have combined our action points and our vision into a new culture statement: ‘15 tasks for the VRT’. Our Prime Foundation Partnership with Vlerick within the Centre for Negotiation Intelligence® will help us to put the work into practice,” according to Paul Lembrechts, CEO of the VRT. Together with Katia Tieleman, Professor of Negotiation and Conflict Management at Vlerick, and Peter Van den Broeck and Tinka Claeys, the driving forces behind the partnership with the VRT, he explains the value of this collaboration.
Why have you started a Prime Foundation Partnership around negotiation?
Paul Lembrechts: “As a public broadcaster we fulfil an important societal role. But at the same time, we as a business work in a very competitive playing field, in a sector that is pioneering in terms of technology. Both externally and internally we have to deal with very many different challenges and we are constantly negotiating with our stakeholders. With ‘15 tasks for the VRT’ we not only want to stimulate leadership and entrepreneurial thinking, but also to challenge others, work across divides, and learn to listen and give positive feedback. Only by doing so can we build up trust and, day after day, month after month, create more value for the VRT and move forward together.”
How can better negotiations contribute to making progress?
Paul Lembrechts: “We believe it is important to sharpen the mindset of our people in order to get the best out of each other in a positive – and not critical – manner. ‘What do I want?’ ‘What does my colleague want?’ ‘What does my interlocutor want?’ ‘How do we overcome what seem like impasses in a creative way?’ Our aim must always be to improve everyone: win more – win more. This is on an individual level, across silos and also at a corporate level. I am convinced that we can strengthen identification with the VRT by working on our mindset. We have very many strong brands under one roof. That is good and we cherish all these, but we are all working on the same bigger picture. We believe it is important that our people always keep this in mind.”
What is your approach in concrete terms?
Peter Van den Broeck: “Together with Professor Katia Tieleman's team, we are working on our knowledge, skills and mindset. We do this using the scientific method of Negotiation Intelligence®. I think it is especially useful that the NQ scan is measurable, as it brings the story to life. During the first year of the partnership, we will embark on a carefully mapped out journey with 18 people. Besides group workshops there will also be individual coaching sessions. The aim is that we can be ambassadors for NQ® within the VRT. During the second year we will widen knowledge about NQ® within the VRT. The goal? Better results, both in terms of objectives and relations. During the third year of the partnership we will anchor NQ® within the organisation by, for example, adjusting processes. Our aim is greater trust in each other and in the VRT, and more pride in belonging to the team.”
What will Vlerick get out of this collaboration?
Katia Tieleman: “The unique role of the VRT in society and in a sector that is experiencing big changes means that it is an especially interesting partnership for us. It is an explicit chance to sharpen the relevance of NQ® and corporate NQ® for the future. Now or in the near future, other businesses and organisations will increasingly face the same challenges as the VRT, such as technology and digitalisation, agility in a quickly changing environment, innovation, intrapreneurship, societal role, functioning in a multi-stakeholder setting, internal cross-silo collaboration, and value creation in a context of scarcity: each of which are focal points for the Vlerick Business School. Consequently we can extrapolate many insights from the partnership to other businesses and contexts. Furthermore, the VRT is making a conscious choice to take a leading role as an organisation: not only following developments, but really thinking forward and taking initiative. As the entire management committee is involved in the partnership, there can be anchoring through the organisation. That gives us as researchers the opportunity to test new hypotheses regarding corporate NQ® in reality (I like to compare it with a laboratory), to enrich our database, and to detect best practices for other domains. The VRT wants to be a frontrunner, as does Vlerick.”