Expert One-Day Program: May 26, 2022, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. ET

NEW! Agile Negotiation: Best Practices and Nimble Tactics to Enhance the Effectiveness of Any Negotiation

Faculty: Michael Wheeler

Join renowned Harvard Business School professor and negotiation specialist Michael Wheeler for a dynamic, one-day session dedicated to the art of agile negotiation — a set of best practices and nimble tactics designed to help individuals and organizations continually enhance the effectiveness of any negotiation.

What Is Agile Negotiation?

Negotiation is invariably a two-way street, which is why it’s impossible to script the process. Whoever sits on the other side of the bargaining table may be just as smart, determined, (and fallible) as we are. Their hands are on the steering wheel, too, and it’s impossible to dictate their agendas, attitudes, or actions.

That’s why an agile approach is key to success. One-size-fits-all strategies simply don’t work in the real world, whether they’re the hardball variety or the win-win kind. An approach that works for one situation could backfire in another, depending on the circumstances and your counterpart’s unique demands.

Learn, Adapt, and Influence

Instead, we must learn, adapt, and influence as the process unfolds. The real challenge lies in the fact that preferences, options, and relationships are fluid. Indeed, when entering into any new negotiation, we’re faced with uncertain questions, such as the following:

  • What if your counterpart refuses to make any concessions?
  • What is the likelihood of your counterpart making a better offer?
  • What if something happens that weakens our position?

All this isn’t to say that we should negotiate without a strategy. The key is to anticipate potential obstacles and have a “Plan B” should things go wrong. We must also look for opportunities that might not have been obvious at the outset. And once the negotiation is underway, we should constantly test our assumptions and, when necessary, revise our strategy. That’s the heart of agile negotiation.

In this highly interactive course, you will learn how to apply and fine-tune the following processes:

  • Customize your preparation template: Craft a preparation checklist tailored for the kinds of negotiations you and your organization undertake. Key elements include a learning agenda and a best- and worst-case scenario analysis.
  • Implement your plan: Test how best to engage your counterpart. You’ll hone macro and micro influencing tools and gain facility in adjusting your approach in real time.
  • Conduct after-action reviews: Evaluate the quality of your preparation. What did you correctly foresee and what might you have overlooked? You’ll identify what worked well during the negotiation and what you might have done differently.
  • Compile and share best practices: Assess your past negotiation experiences and identify strengths that you can build upon. Partner with a colleague or friend who will share his or her advice and perspective — and share your best practices with colleagues as well. This information can support performance assessments and, when appropriate, inform incentives.
  • Enhance enterprisewide “negotiation systems”: Implement and improve an organization-wide negotiation framework that incorporates processes for evaluating and rewarding performance, promoting ongoing learning, goal defining, trade-offs, and evaluating scope of authority.
  • Recognize and resolve ethical issues: Consider what we owe other parties — if anything — in regard to fairness, honesty, or the use of pressure tactics. The hardest questions aren’t about being right or wrong; rather, they force us to reconcile competing rights and obligations. Often, we must deal with people whose values don’t match our own.
  • Assess the promise and pitfalls of digital tools: Recognize what negotiation apps and platforms are most effective for meeting your organization’s goals and objectives. Computer-based tools are available for a range of functions, from online dispute-resolution and automated real-time coaching to interpersonal skill-building via negotiating with avatars.
Learning Approach

This course will be taught in a business school style, drawing on the latest research and case studies of real negotiations and including lively discussions, short videos, exercises, and polls to draw out different points of view. Small group breakouts will enable participants to compare experiences and share advice.

This dynamic session will sharpen your ability to craft agile strategies and be quick on your feet from moment to moment in tough negotiations. In addition, you’ll learn how to curate your best practices and promote ongoing learning throughout your organization.

Learn more about PON Expert One-Day Programs.



Expert One-Day Program: $1,497
Where: The program will run on Zoom.
AM Session: 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET
One-hour break: 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. ET
PM Session: 1:30 – 5:00 p.m. ET
Certificate: When you complete your training program you will receive a certificate from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School signed by Program on Negotiation Executive Committee Chair, Professor Guhan Subramanian.

Michael Wheeler has been affiliated with the Program on Negotiation since its founding in 1983. At that time, he was on the faculty of MIT’s Department of Urban Studies & Planning, where he co-authored the award-winning text Environmental Dispute Resolution with Larry Bacow. He was editor of PON’s Negotiation Journal for 20 years.

Wheeler joined the Harvard Business School faculty in 1993 and was named to an endowed chair in 1999. In 2004, he received the Greenhill Award for advancing the mission of the school. His research and teaching there have focused on the dynamic, improvisational nature of negotiation. His perspective extends — and in some respects, challenges — traditional ideas about negotiation strategy and tactics.

In recent years, Wheeler’s work has centered on the use of computer-based technologies to teach, study, and manage negotiations. In 2020, he co-chaired (with James Sebenius) PON’s conference on AI, Technology, and Negotiation. He also developed the Negotiation 360 self-assessment/best practice app for iOS and Android devices, and cohosts, on many popular platforms, the Agility at Work podcast with Dr. Kimberlyn Leary.