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The New "Getting to Yes"
on August 4, 2006
For years "Getting to Yes" has been the standard introduction to negotiation. Frankly, the one-size-fits-all approach and win-win optimism of the book has gotten tired. Mike Watkin's "Shaping the Game" is the antidote.
Watkins's focus is the need to both create value and capture value. He argues that you have to shift your style accordingly to circumstances -- sometimes on creating value, sometimes on capturing it. Sometimes you focus on interests and sometimes on positions. Sometimes you negotiate a transaction and sometimes you negotiate a relationship. They key is to know when to do what.
After providing an introduction to diagnosing negotiations in terms of structure and process, Watkins outlines a framework for developing negotiating strategies based on identifying what you need to do (1) before you get to the negotiating table and (2) once you get there. He also highlights the importance of not just playing the negotiating games the way others have defined them, but also focusing on "shaping the game." He rightly stresses that much is won and lost in the setup of negotiations, before you even get to the table.
The rest of the book lays out key elements of his approach:
* Match Strategy to Situation - Figure out what type of negotiation you are involved in and prepare for it accordingly.
* Plan to Learn and Influence - Engage with the other side "at the table" in ways that both help you to learn about their positions and interests and that influence them.
* Shape the Game - Focus on influencing basic setup of negotiations, such as who you negotiate with and what the issues are and what alliances you build, in ways that help you to create and capture value.
* Organize to Improve - Make sure to learn from evey negotiation you do and also to strengthen the negotiation capabilities of your organization.
The last chapter provides some particularly helpful advice about how to become a better negotiator. It also will help anyone who runs an organization where people negotiate on a regular basis. While nominally written for people taking new jobs, it's useful for anyone who negotiates in organizations.