Beyond the Back Table: Working with People and Organizations to Get to Yes

By — on / Beyond the Back Table



March 13-14, 2024 | 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. ET

Go Beyond the Back Table

In this two-day online course, you will step back to look beyond the negotiating table and discover how to understand and manage the individuals and groups who are not at the table, but who have a significant impact on the outcome of your negotiation, on your side and the other side.

When you think of negotiation, you may picture two parties across the table from one another. But the truth is far more complex. Most negotiations also involve internal and external stakeholders, and feature “back table” negotiations on either side that require all parties to manage complicated relationships and build consensus.

Discover the keys to “getting to yes” with all your negotiation stakeholders

Developed by the experts at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, Beyond the Back Table will help you gain the strategies you need to be highly effective at the negotiating table —and behind it. With the skills you learn, you’ll be well prepared to “get to yes” with your colleagues, your organization, and your negotiation counterparts. This highly interactive, two-day online course, will equip you to:

  • Become a highly effective consensus-builder within your organization.
  • Actively manage the expectations of one’s own backtable by continuously integrating internal and external negotiations.
  • Diagnose how cultural differences can be reframed as opportunities rather than barriers.
  • Build winning coalitions to generate buy in and drive deals that create value.
  • Overcome blocking coalitions and spoilers.
  • Learn how to better understand the other parties’ internal process.
  • Apply key insights from great negotiators on how to best mobilize and orchestrate a complex multiparty negotiation and confront holdouts and spoilers.
  • Learn how to craft innovative agreements that successfully capture stakeholders competing interests.
Learn powerful strategies that get results

Led by Alain Lempereur, Alan B. Slifka Professor at Brandeis University and Affiliate Faculty and Executive Committee Member of the Program on Negotiation, Beyond the Back Table blends dynamic video-based lessons, breakout discussion groups, case studies, and realistic negotiation simulations to help you develop the skills to lead at the negotiating table and beyond.

Program Agenda
DAY 1: Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Module 1: Back Table
9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. ET

What happens behind the bargaining table is essential to the outcome of a negotiation. In this module, you will explore the best ways to manage back table negotiations—and synchronize internal and external processes to get the best result. Alongside your fellow participants, you will learn how to:

  • Manage your own internal negotiations by identifying the parties, their interests, and how to “get to yes”
  • Use indirect influence when you may not have formal direct authority to advance your agenda
  • Handle the tension between creating value and claiming value
  • Prepare strong offers prior to undertaking back-table discussions
  • Overcome the challenges of complex multi-stakeholder negotiations in which the adversaries are within your own organization

You will also take part in a dynamic two-party role-play simulation over a land lease between governments.


Module 2: Cultural Differences
1:30 p.m.–5:00 p.m. ET

Negotiating better results is contingent upon building successful relationships. In this module, you will learn how to overcome barriers to negotiating effectively across cultures. Specifically, you will:

  • Deepen your understanding of the other side’s culture and explore how people may perceive your own culture
  • Recognize real and perceived differences in languages, professions, behavior, attitudes, and values—and how they influence negotiating style
  • Understand how to avoid stereotypes and appreciate each negotiator for their rich background and singularity
  • Acquire strategies for bridging cultural divides and communication gaps
  • Discover the importance of having general negotiation frameworks that are relevant across cultures

You will also review and discuss a case study to understand the impact of culture in a negotiation.

DAY 2: Thursday, March 14, 2024

Module 3: Coalitions
9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. ET

At the bargaining table, it may look like two parties are negotiating; however, the truth is that many internal and external parties can influence the outcome. In this module, you will learn how to build coalitions and facilitate agreement among multiple stakeholders. Alongside your fellow participants, you will:

  • Acquire sophisticated negotiation strategies for working in highly complex situations and planning ahead for future negotiations
  • Explore practical ways to map out stakeholders and deal with blocking coalitions
  • Learn how to sequence an alliance-building process by figuring out patterns of influence
  • Understand how to build a winning coalition of parties whose interests are aligned or who have strong reasons to coordinate strategies
  • Become a more effective negotiator and emerge better prepared to create greater value at the bargaining table

To put your knowledge into action, you will also take part in a dynamic three-party coalition-building simulation.


Module 4: Great Negotiator
1:30 p.m.–5:00 p.m. ET

The greatest negotiators in the world have also faced the greatest challenges. In this module, you will delve into case studies from PON’s recipients of the “Great Negotiator” award – singularly successful heads of state, corporate visionaries, diplomats, and master strategists. Specifically, you will:

  • Get a first-hand understanding of what it’s like to mediate and facilitate large, complex, multinational negotiations
  • Hear Christiana Figueres – Great Negotiator award winner and former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – discuss the 2015 climate talks in Paris
  • Hear Tommy Koh – Great Negotiator award winner and former UN representative for Singapore – talk about the complexities of international negotiation
  • Gain an inside look at how beyond the table negotiations can help recruit allies to build a winning coalition

To reflect on what you’ve learned, you will also participate in break-out discussion groups. Day 2 will conclude with a wrap-up and summary of all modules.

Beyond the Back Table will help you enhance your negotiation skill by exploring concepts that focus on strategies for improving interpersonal relationships—both external and within organizations—and how they impact the outcome of your negotiations.

Our Faculty

Your Beyond The Back Table Online Instructor:
Alain Lempereur, PON Affiliated Faculty
  • Alan B. Slifka Professor at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
  • Affiliate Faculty and Executive Committee Member, Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School
  • Harvard Humanitarian Initiative Core Faculty and Negotiation Lead, UN Global Executive Leadership Initiative

Alain Lempereur promotes his “responsible negotiation” framework worldwide and applies it to leadership, mediation, and humanitarian challenges. He has published a dozen books, including The First Move: A Negotiator’s Companion and Mediation: Negotiation by other Moves. And contributed to more than 100 articles and book chapters.

After getting a research doctorate in law from Harvard Law School and degrees at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Lempereur spent 25 years consulting and providing executive training for international organizations, national governments, global consulting firms, and corporations in 70 countries. He founded negotiation and leadership initiatives in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe and was the founding director of IRENÉ – a European negotiation institute he led for 15 years at ESSEC Business School.

Educational Videos Feature Expert Faculty:
Brian Mandell
  • Mohammad Kamal Senior Lecturer in Negotiation and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Director, Harvard Kennedy School Negotiation Project
  • Faculty Associate, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Vice Chair for Executive Education for the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School
  • Senior Research Associate, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Senior Fellow, Future of Diplomacy Project, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Faculty Co-Chair, Mastering Negotiation: Building Sustainable Agreements, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Chair, Wexner Senior Leaders Program, Harvard Kennedy School

Brian Mandell is a preeminent teacher and curriculum designer at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he leads an innovative, intensive annual workshop course on advanced multiparty negotiation and conflict resolution.

Professor Mandell refined his case teaching methods in international affairs as a Pew Faculty Fellow and subsequently trained faculty from across the United States in case method pedagogy with a special emphasis on teaching and writing cases for international security studies.

He is a multiple recipient of the school’s Most Influential Course Award, the Manuel C. Carballo Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence. Through the Negotiation Project, Professor Mandell designs and produces multiparty negotiation exercises that focus on the challenges of cross-boundary collaboration.

Additionally, he is designing and developing curriculum material for graduate students and congressional staffers in the Hewlett Foundation’s Madison Initiative on strengthening bipartisan legislative negotiation in Congress.

Hannah Riley Bowles
  • Co-director, Center for Public Leadership
  • Co-director, Women and Public Policy Program
  • Roy E. Larsen Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management

Hannah Riley Bowles is a leading expert on how gender influences pay negotiations and, more broadly, on negotiation as a micro-mechanism of inequality. She has been actively involved in negotiation and conflict management training, practice, and research for more than 25 years, having worked for the governments of Argentina, Costa Rica, and Germany. Her current research focuses on women’s leadership advancement, examining both situational barriers and individual strategies.

Bowles teaches conflict and collaboration in the master of public policy core curriculum and is the faculty director of Women and Power, the Kennedy School’s executive program for women in senior leadership from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. She won the Kennedy School’s 2003 Manuel Carballo Award for Excellence in Teaching.

James K. Sebenius
  • Gordon Donaldson Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
  • Vice Chair for Practice-Focused Research, Program on Negotiation Executive Committee
  • Chair, Great Negotiator Award Committee
  • Director, Harvard Negotiation Project
  • Co-Director, American Secretaries of State Program

An authority on complex negotiations, James Sebenius has advanced the field in the academic realm, in the public and diplomatic sectors, and the business world; outside Harvard, he has worked full-time in the U.S. Commerce and State Departments as well as at the Blackstone Group.

At the Harvard Business School, Sebenius spearheaded the effort to make negotiation a required course in the M.B.A. program, and he created the negotiation department, which he led for several years. As a co-founder of Lax Sebenius LLC, he provides negotiation advisory services to corporations and governments worldwide.

Jeswald Salacuse
  • Dean Emeritus and Distinguished Professor Emeritus, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University

With broad experience in higher education, international development, and legal practice, Jeswald Salacuse specializes in international negotiation and arbitration, international business transactions, and law and development. He is the author of twenty books and numerous articles, including >Leading Leaders: How to Manage Smart, Talented, Rich, and Powerful People, named one of the top five business books of 2006 by the Globe and Mail, and The Global Negotiator: Making, Managing, and Mending Deals around the World in the Twenty-First Century, selected as one of the best business books of 2003 by Library Journal. His most recent book is Real Leaders Negotiate! Gaining, Using, and Keeping the Power to Lead through Negotiation, Palgrave Macmillan 2017. He has been a consultant to major multinational companies, government agencies, international organizations, universities, foundations, and foreign governments.

Salacuse was awarded the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Comparative Law for Italy in 2000 and has served as dean of the Fletcher School and as dean of the School of Law of Southern Methodist University. His other leadership positions have included founding president of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA), first president of the Tufts University Faculty Senate, and the Ford Foundation’s first representative in Sudan. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Law Institute, and the executive committee and faculty of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. Formerly an independent director of several mutual funds, he is currently chairman of the India Fund and president and a member of international arbitration tribunals under the auspices of the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Lawrence Susskind
  • Ford Foundation Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Director of the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center, Program on Negotiation, Harvard Law School
  • Director of the MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program
  • Vice Chair-Pedagogy, Program on Negotiation, Harvard Law School

As one of the founders of the Program on Negotiation, Lawrence Susskind has delivered specialized negotiation and mediation training to more than 40,000 executives from around the world. A visiting lecturer at more than 50 universities in 20 countries, including Harvard and Stanford Law Schools, he has published more than 70 teaching simulations and a dozen teaching videos.

Widely considered an authority on complex, multiparty negotiations, Susskind has mediated countless complex disputes and, in his role with the Consensus Building Institute, advised the supreme courts of Israel, Ireland, and the Philippines; helped facilitate a variety of international treaty-making efforts; developed conflict assessment and joint fact-finding techniques; evaluated collaborative adaptive management efforts; and helped organizational leaders cultivate and improve their negotiating capabilities.

The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School
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