Monday, January 1, 2007

Foundations of the Breakthrough Approach

It is both tempting and foolhardy to focus narrowly on what happens at the negotiating table. Such a focus can lead you to ig- nore the work you should be doing before meeting with your coun- terparts for the first time and between negotiating sessions as well. This is a matter of far more than just gathering information; it also involves thinking through how you can improve your bargaining position. Can you alter your counterparts’ perceptions of their al- ternatives to an agreement with you? These are the objectives of four tasks you undertake at and away from the table: 1 Diagnosing the situation: Systematically assessing the components of the negotiation to identify potential barriers to agreement Shaping the structure: Influencing who participates, what the issues are, and what your alternatives are, so you don’t find yourself playing someone else’s game Managing the process: Preparing for and conducting face- to-face interactions in order to build momentum Assessing the results: Setting goals and periodically evaluating how you are doing in order to refine your diagnosis and rethink how to shape the structure and manage the process 1 2 BREAKTHROUGH BUSINESS NEGOTIATION These four core tasks are not undertaken in lock-step se- quence; breakthrough negotiators shift back and forth among them as their negotiations evolve. We will discuss them one by one, but the cases will also illustrate how analysis and interaction, strate- gizing and bargaining, and actions at and away from the table in- tersect in the course of actual negotiations. Chapter One will demonstrate how to diagnose a negotiation by pinpointing unexplored opportunities in a recruiting situa- tion at a start-up. Chapter Two uses an impasse in a commercial lease deal to explore the process of shaping the structure of a ne- gotiation. Chapter Three examines how to orchestrate face-to- face interactions by looking closely at negotiations between an airline and its pilots’ union. And Chapter Four follows up on all three cases to illustrate how to judge the success of ongoing nego- Away from the Table At the Table Diagnosing Analyze the structure of Learn in order to test and the situation the negotiation and hone your hypotheses. develop hypotheses about counterparts’ interests and alternatives. Shaping Shape who participates Work to set the agenda the structure and how current and frame what is at negotiations are linked stake. to others. Managing Plan how to learn and Influence counterparts’ the process influence counterparts’ perceptions of what is perceptions of the acceptable. bargaining range. Assessing Establish goals before Periodically assess what the results going to the table. is happening so you Between sessions, evaluate can make midcourse how you are doing. corrections. tiations and make midcourse corrections. These four chapters con- stitute the fundamental tools for managing complex negotiations. In Part Two, we will explore how the breakthrough approach can be applied in challenging situations that managers routinely face: dealing with power imbalances, building coalitions, leading teams, representing others, and negotiating crises. INTRODUCTION TO PART ONE 3

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