Don’t Negotiate! Collaborate for the Win-Win

It seems there is never a simple negotiation.  The term “negotiation” itself connotes that the parties involved have differences of opinions and are sitting across the table from each other discussing positions and trade-offs.  Some even view negotiations as a pejorative euphemism – something that should be approached with suspicion or trepidation. A necessary evil that’s more like dueling fact sheets and head-to-head talking points by talking heads.

I believe the term “negotiation” itself is simply not good enough to describe what happens in the business and political arenas. In fact I’d say that the term negotiation should be banned altogether when you talk strategic outsourcing, and even more so for Vested Outsourcing. What you are really doing – or should be doing in the case of outsourcing agreements – is sitting on the SAME side of the table, working together to create a collaborative contract.

It’s not a contest of wills or positions or trying to one-up your prospective partner. It’s striving to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes over the long haul, in good times and bad.

The good news is that I am not alone in my thinking. There’s been quite a lot of thought leadership on this concept, with much of it traceable back 20 years or so to the influential book Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury, which I talked about recently in the context of Getting to We.   Today’s thought leaders include Brad Spengler (2003 article “Integrative or Interest-Based Bargaining“) and Jeanette Nyden (Negotation Rules!) – who profess that organizations should collaborate to find a ‘win-win’ solution. Spengler and Nyden both teach that conventional “positional bargaining” – which is based on fixed viewpoints and tends to result in compromise that is often unsatisfactory, or no agreement at all – is old school. Instead both encourage parties to be  “joint problem solvers” with a common goal to achieve a wise decision; who work together; who focus on interests and not positions; who use fair principles; who insist on objective criteria and use reason and who look for the win-win.

Sound familiar? Take those valuable precepts out of the dispute resolution realm and apply them to strategic outsourcing. Integrate them with Vested Outsourcing’s Five Rules of collaboration, trust and ‘What’s in in it for We.’ Mix well with patience, flexibility, measurable outcomes and insight.

Voila! You’re not negotiating or bargaining, you’re collaborating together for the win-win where parties have a vested interest in each others success.

I love the teaching of Spengler and Nyden. The only flaw: I think they should change the name of what they call their teachings. Spengler calls his approach “interest-based bargaining” and Nyden refers to it as “interest-based negotiation rules.”  As stated above, the terms bargaining and negotiations simply don’t connote the proper meaning of their lessons.  A successful collaboration is about baking a bigger pie – not just about negotiation or bargaining over the existing one!

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