3-D Negotiation Powerful Tools to Change the Game in Your Most Important Deals

David Lax & James Sebenius

A path-breaking introduction to the "three dimensions" of complex negotiated deal-making: table tactics, deal design, and the crucial but often overlooked dimension of setup

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Stuck in a "win-win" versus "win-lose” debate, most negotiation books focus on face-to-face tactics. Yet table tactics are only the first dimension of Lax and Sebenius’s path breaking "3-D" approach, developed from their decades of doing deals and analyzing great deal-makers. Deal-makers operating in the second dimension—deal design—systematically unlock economic and non-economic value by creatively structuring agreements.

But what sets the 3-D approach apart is its third dimension: setup. Before showing up at a bargaining session, 3-D negotiators ensure that the right parties have been approached, in the right sequence, to address the right interests, under the right expectations, and facing the right consequences of walking away if there is no deal. This new arsenal of moves away from the table often exerts the greatest impact on the negotiated outcome.

Packed with practical steps and cases, 3-D Negotiation demonstrates how superior setup moves plus insightful deal designs can enable you to reach remarkable agreements at the table, unattainable by standard tactics.


"Lax and Sebenius capture what I've seen great deal makers take years to perfect." – Stephen Friedman, former Chairman and Senior Partner, Goldman Sachs & Co., and Chair, President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board

"Every so often, a book comes along that sheds entirely new light on an old subject…[Lax and Sebenius'] chapters on the art and science of deal design go well beyond anything yet written on just how to create value on a lasting basis, including both the letter and spirit of the deal. And there is simply nothing like their systematic development of the art and science of moves away from the table to set up the most promising possible situation for face-to-face tactics. Twenty years ago, Lax and Sebenius coined the phrase 'creating and claiming value' and change the negotiation field by making its implications the cornerstone of their first book. I predict that 3-D Negotiation will do it again." – Howard Raiffa, F.P. Ramsey Professor (Emeritus) of Managerial Economics, Harvard Business School and John F. Kennedy School of Government


"3-D Negotiation is a brilliant and rigorous exposition of key bargaining techniques from two masters of negotiation…I have used their advice to great success in the complex health care environment." – Paul F. Levy, President and CEO, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

"Lax and Sebenius have a powerful new way of thinking about negotiating. 3-D Negotiation is having a profound impact on how we approach deal making at Shell." – Malcom Brinded, Executive Director, Exploration and Production, Royal Dutch/ Shell

"With its highly original focus on away-from-the-table 'setup' moves and sophisticated prescriptions on value-creating deal designs, 3-D Negotiation provides an innovative analytical framework that will prove indispensable for those seeking practical negotiation advice." – Robert H. Mnookin, Williston Professor of Law and Chair, Program on Negotiation, Harvard Law School

3-D Negotiation Attributes

Author: David A. Lax and James K. Sebenius
Publisher: Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press (2006)