Storms here in the Colorado Territory.  A spring upslope storm guides moisture up the rising terrain and drops frozen water on the high plains. Unlike the Eskimos, we have reduced it to a single word- snow.

I’ve spent much time lately with the attorney crafting business agreements. It is a delicate art. Sins of commission or omission can come back to clobber you.  Having been involved in a few of these things, I am beginning to see the patterns and whorls of terms and conditions, vision and revision, twisting and turning to morph, vanish, and crystallize over time. Hammering out a business agreement is a learning experience for all involved.

Over the course of negotiation, both parties learn about each other. They learn the strengths and weaknesses of the respective organizational structures and of the individuals involved.  Expectations that began as firm requirements slowly undergo plastic deformation into other shapes.

There are two main fears for most negotiators. Making a blunder of some sort and leaving money on the table.  Nobody wants to immortalize bad judgement or inattentiveness in an iron-clad document that will be in force for years. And notbody wants to aim too low in their expectations of performance or price.  Parties speak piously of win/win, but secretly they want WIN/win.

Buyers need a bargain trophy to parade before their bosses at the next performance review. Sellers want to appear shrewd in front of their bosses. Participants in a negotiation need many things and the appearance of sound, shrewd judgement is not the least of the needs.

Most large companies have whole departments that manage contracts and license agreements. They have specialists on staff to manage business agreements- maybe even a few lawyers. Chances are, if you are a chemist/engineer who has strayed from the lab and find yourself in business development or sales, you may be working on supply agreements, tech transfer agreements, tolling contracts, secrecy agreements, etc., already.

At some point in the career of a chemist/engineer, a choice will be given as to the kind of upward mobility opportunities one may take. Some, like myself, chose the path of business. A chemist may be assigned to a procurement job where chemistry skills are applied to buying chemicals for your organization.  Others may move into sales and represent a territory or become one of the Knights Templar of commerce- a business development manager.

Laboratory work is fun and gratifying. But so are many other activities. The operation of any scientific endeavor is complex. Universities and industry alike require that at least some of its soldiers move into administration so they can continue to operate.

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