Individual negotiators are sometimes overwhelmed by the idea of leading organization-wide changes to negotiation practices. In fact,
it doesn’t take much time or effort to set the wheels of reform in motion, write Hallam Movius and Lawrence Susskind in Built to Win. Here
are four simple steps to implement in your workplace.
The Consensus Building Institute (CBI) based in Boston, Massachusetts and in Washington, DC has honored Program on Negotiation faculty member Lawrence Susskind with its creation of a one-year graduate student fellowship that offers the successful candidate the opportunity to work with CBI in Boston or DC on an area of focus for bot CBI and the student’s research.
Graduate students enrolled in Law, Masters and doctoral programs with a focus on public issues are eligible to apply for the year-long fellowship which will award $7,500 per semester and will require 16 hours of work a week at either of CBI’s offices in an area of mutual interest to both CBI and the student’s research.
Successful candidates will demonstrate a commitment to consensus building and dispute resolution in the public sector, a passion for working collaboratively, a knowledge of negotiation and alternative dispute resolution theory and practice, an ongoing, demonstrable interest in areas where negotiation theory and practice converge, as well as a strong sense of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.
Even with a common language and the best of intentions, negotiators from different cultures face special challenges. Try following these guidelines when preparing for talks with someone from a different culture:
When times are tight, contracts are often broken. These days, parties on both sides of sales agreements are struggling to fulfill their promises, and contract workers are having trouble getting paid by their employers.
The result? Damaged relationships, lost business, and lawsuits. When you do manage to find new business partners in this climate, it can be tempting to rush through the contract-drafting process, file the document away quickly, and roll up your sleeves.
When it comes to planning and carrying out talks, negotiators are too often left to their own devices.
Here’s how to guide your employees toward better results.
How satisfied are you with the outcomes that negotiators in your organization achieve?
Most likely, you can think of a few successes worth crowing about, a few you’d like to sweep under the carpet, and many more that turned out just so-so. Maybe your department never manages to sign the most promising job candidates.
“A tough guy with a thin skin”: That’s how former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton summed up Vladimir Putin during a speech in Portland, Oregon, in April.
“He is always looking for advantage,” she continued. “So he will try to put you ill at ease. He will even throw an insult your way. He will look bored and dismissive.” Saying she had a lot of experience dealing with people who acted like Putin, Clinton concluded, “Go back to elementary school. I’ve seen all of that.”
After the conclusion of a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu labeled collusion with a terrorist organization, the Middle East peace process has arrived at another, hopefully temporary, standstill.
You set up the contract renegotiation with a key client months ago. You had every intention of gathering a range of information to establish realistic goals and assess the client’s needs, but short-term projects got in the way. Suddenly it’s the day before the first meeting. Aside from making a few phone calls and calculations, you’ll have to wing it—but that’s OK. You’ve always worked well under pressure. Right?
We all know we’re supposed to prepare to negotiate, yet we often fail to follow through on these best intentions. That’s a problem because research overwhelmingly shows that underprepared negotiators make unnecessary concessions, overlook sources of value, and walk away from beneficial agreements.
Some might argue that confrontation is inevitable. But a wide range of collaborative efforts around the country have shown that it can be avoided.
How can negotiators find their way into the trading zone quickly and easily?
One proven method is joint fact finding.
Joint fact finding is a multistep, collaborative process for bringing together negotiating partners with different interests, values, and perspectives. Here are the five stages through which joint fact finding typically proceeds.
The MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program, one of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School’s many research programs, acts as a center for research committed to thinking about and resolving disputes in the public sector. Led by its Director and Program on Negotiation executive committee member Lawrence Susskind, the MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program conducts research dealing with international environmental treaty negotiations, public sector consensus building, and advocating for the importance of the science behind any negotiations about resource management.
A five-year old American manufacturer of medical equipment has just secured a patent on its primary product, a new kind of heart monitor. The potential market is even stronger than the company imagined, yet its second round of venture capital funding is coming to an end. A few other manufacturers are about to go public with similar, though less well-tested, products. To shore up funding of the big launch, the CEO decides to explore joint-venture possibilities with several overseas partners.
There is a problem, though. She has never been involved in joint-venture negotiations before; what’s more, she has never done business with an overseas investor. Meanwhile, one of the European companies she approached knew all about her company’s internal strengths and weaknesses. The CEO feels she is in the best position to represent her small company’s interests in the upcoming negotiations, and yet she is extremely nervous. The company’s future is on the line. Does she have enough knowledge and experience to succeed?
Lectures, like publications such as this one, are an excellent means of transmitting knowledge from an expert to a less knowledgeable audience.
I have attended many amazing lectures on a multitude of topics and have learned fascinating information about the ecosystem, politics in different nations, animal species, and so on. I even have enjoyed hearing negotiation experts talk about the keys to their success. However, I am not at all confident that any particular lecture has improved my negotiation skills.
In his article, “Full Engagement: Learning the Most from Negotiation Simulations,” Lawrence Susskind discussed the value of learning negotiation skills by participating in simulations. To explain why simulations are so effective, Susskind overview psychologist Kurt Lewin’s model of change.
Executives are increasingly faced with the task of negotiating in a realm that many know little about: technology.
Whether you’re bargaining over the purchase of a companywide network, coping with the possible infringement of patented technology, or seeking better customer service from a software supplier, technology negotiations have become a fact of managerial life.
How do such negotiations differ from those that are less technologically complex?
Founded in 1983, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School is a pioneer in the fields of negotiation, mediation, and alternative dispute resolution.
In commemoration of the program’s 30th anniversary this year, the Program on Negotiation is proud to present a video describing many of PON’s various educational and research activities.
According to Chair Robert Mnookin, at its core the Program on Negotiation is devoted to improving the theory and practice of negotiation and dispute resolution.
There are three major reasons that managers are reluctant to seek the assistance they need.
In the early days of his tenure, a chairman spends too much time reviewing the details of his proposed policy with his staff and not enough time sounding out council members to drum up support for his reforms.
The chairman’s missteps lead us to the first rule of coalition building: think carefully about how and when to meet one-on-one with other parties.
Negotiations become especially complex when agents are involved on two or more sides.
In the course, of their research, Robert Mnookin and Lawrence Susskind discovered that many negotiators often mistakenly assume that an agent representing the other side
When multiple parties gather to discuss issues, someone has to oversee the group’s efforts, or the process will descend into chaos or stalemate.
A negotiation manager should prepare the group’s agenda, establish ground rules, assign research tasks, summarize conclusions, and represent the process to the outside world.
This presentation by Karen Lee Bar-Sinai and Prof. Robert Mnookin is the fourth seminar exploring the role of urban planning in negotiation, co-sponsored by the Middle East Negotiation Initiative (MENI) at the Program on Negotiation and the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Yaakov Katz, a correspondent for The Jerusalem Post and Jane’s Defence Weekly, and Prof. Robert Mnookin, the Samuel Williston Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, will discuss Unilateral Initiatives in the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict.
The case of Jordan and Israel shows how even countries at war can negotiate a water agreement if it is framed in non-zero sum terms and trust continues to be built over time. And that is not the only case of a treaty that has succeeded against all odds to bridge conflicting water interests; the Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan and the Ganges Water Treaty between Bangladesh and India are other examples.
Zero-sum thinking emerges when people conceive of water as a fixed resource – one provided by nature in a given quantity that is either static or diminishing. Based on these assumptions, diplomats often focus on what share of the existing water will be given to each entity. Negotiations of this type typically involve decision makers who are political leaders focused on preserving sovereignty and maintaining state security. They are often unprepared to think about improving the overall efficiency of water use, which, in effect, can “create” more water.
Scientific and technical knowledge is important in water negotiations, but not in the ways it has often been used. It is counterproductive to use scientific information to justify arbitrary (political) decisions. For example, scientific information about water has increased dramatically over the last several decades, but our ability to manage water resources has not improved proportionately.
When countries face contending water claims, one of the biggest obstacles to reaching an agreement is uncertainty. Specifically, there are three types of uncertainty: uncertainty of information, uncertainty of action, and uncertainty of perception. In part 2 of this 5 part series, Program on Negotiation faculty member Lawrence Susskind explains the uncertainties facing negotiators trying to make agreements.
Most difficulties in water negotiations are due to rigid assumptions about how water must be allocated. When countries (or states) share boundary waters, the presumption is that there is a fixed amount of water to divide among them, often in the face of ever-increasing demand and uncertain variability. Such assumptions lead to a zero-sum mindset, with absolute winners and losers. However, when parties instead understand that water is a flexible resource and use processes and mechanisms to focus on building and enhancing trust, even countries in conflict can reach agreements that satisfy their citizens’ water needs and their national interests.
Program on Negotiation Chair Robert Mnookin was honored by the International Academy of Mediators with a lifetime achievement award during the organization’s fall 2012 conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
I want to make four simple points regarding corporate social responsibility and mineral extraction in Colombia. I presented these ideas several weeks ago at a Harvard Law School seminar sponsored by the Colombian government. We had senior officials present along with a great many Colombian graduate students studying at Boston-area schools. I think these prescriptions apply globally, but they are especially relevant in Latin America.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) provides a new point of entry for those concerned about the social and environmental impacts of mineral extraction.
I was recently asked by my Harvard Law School class to summarize what we know (from actual experience) about environmental dispute resolution. I offered the following list. I’m eager to hear reactions from other scholars and practitioners.
What have I left out? What have I misstated?
On April 16, the Pulitzer Prize board announced its annual writing prizes, with two notable omissions: the board chose not to award Pulitzers in the categories of fiction and editorial writing. The reaction from the publishing industry to the Pulitzer’s fiction snub, in particular, was swift and hostile. “If I feel disappointment as a writer and indignation as a reader, I manage to get all the way to rage as a bookseller,” writes Ann Patchett, a fiction writer and bookstore owner, in a New York Times editorial.
The Pulitzer Board’s decision comes at a difficult time for the publishing industry, which has faced steadily declining book sales in recent years. And just five days before the Pulitzer announcement, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against five of the biggest U.S. publishers for colluding to set e-book prices. Now the industry must do without the annual boost the Pulitzer gives to the winning author and publisher – and cope with the implication that it was a miserable year for literary fiction.
Unless your official title is “lawyer” or “agent” you probably don’t think of yourself as an agent. But if you’ve ever represented a family member, your boss, your department, or your organization in a negotiation, you’ve served as that party’s agent.
Representing others at the bargaining table creates both opportunities and hazards. In their book, Negotiating on Behalf of Others (Sage, 1999), professors Robert Mnookin of Harvard Law School and Lawrence Susskind of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offer guidance to negotiators who find themselves serving as agents.
So, you’ve decided to use an agent in your next negotiation. Now what?
It’s important not to rush headlong into the process of choosing an agent—picking the first one you speak to, for example, and sending him off to talks the next day. You need to choose your agent carefully, then establish a clear, detailed understanding of each other’s responsibilities and expectations. The following are critical steps in picking an agent and negotiating his contract.
On May 6, 2009, Hal Movius and Larry Susskind spoke about their new book “Built to Win: Creating a World Class Negotiating Organization” (Harvard Business Publishing) at an author’s reception in the PON Library. Movius and Susskind were available to sign copies of their book and answer questions.
Individuals in this position often feel as though they have few if any options. In his February 2006 article in Negotiation newsletter, “Negotiating with a 900-Pound Gorilla,” MIT Professor Lawrence Susskind offers strategies for how negotiators in a weak position should deal with a seemingly all-powerful opponent.
You’re facing business negotiations with the goliath in your industry. What’s your choice? Take what little the other side offers or be squeezed out of the market entirely?