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Video: Was Negotiation Book “Getting to Yes” a Failure?

Below is a partial transcript of the video.

Keld “Welcome back if you’d be watching us previously I am happy to introduce Marty and Karen here today. Both of them has been on our show previously, and ladies first, so Karen would you like to do a
brief introduction of yourself?”

Karen: ” I’m Karen Walsh and I’m an emeritus faculty at Thunderbird school of global management and now I am in a consulting business with my husband Paul Kinzinger and it’s called Clair-Buoyant Leadership.”

Keld: “Thank you. Marty?”

Marty: “My name is Marty Latz. I’m the founder of Latz Negotiation. I taught for a number of years at the law school at Arizona State, and I now teach and train businesspeople and lawyers how to more effectively negotiate both in the US as well as abroad. I’ve also written a couple of books on negotiation and I just love talking about the subject.

Keld: “Thank you both and thank you for taking the time coming. Now one of the many, many, many, many reasons that I thought it would be great today having you guys on board again is, as you just said Marty, all of us here are authors and all of us are authors within the topic and in the area of negotiation. Now I’ve been provoking a lot of people. I’ve done that with so many things, but one of the things I’ve been getting people with, yeah I’m very good at obviously, but one of the things that really annoys people is when I’m claiming that “Getting to Yes” was a failure. For those that don’t know, the book is probably the book or the first book that really made it big within negotiation. It was published more than 30 years ago. it’s the first one that actually tried to create some kind of framework. And the reason I claimed the book is is a failure is not because the book by itself is not good. It is actually very good, but I see so many clients that I meet that have read the book and the book is on the bookshelf, but not they’re not using any of the content. What’s your guys’ opinion about that, when I say “Getting to Yes” was a failure.

Karen: “Okay, well I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a failure. I think maybe there’s two elements that I’ve often thought about regarding that book. One is that for its time it really was a jump forward to take us from just positional bargaining to interest-based and we see that today a lot of work is all about the why today. So that they were really on to something there. The other is that people are not actually practicing positional versus interest-based. They’re really not going to have much movement, which then leads me to the other thing that I would say it wasn’t a failure but it was ahead of its time. Because now we have a lot of science that is explaining why the “why” is such a powerful thing. And that’s what I think that the sciences have really informed us a lot about why the “why” is so important and how difficult it is because we generally want to move to the “what” first.”

Keld: “But Marty, if Karen is right in her point that the book was was ahead of its time, would you agree or disagree with me that I still see a lot of the people who were reading the book today, but still not using the content or the ideas of the book?”

Marty: “Well, I would agree that there are a number of people in businesses that read the book to teach the book that don’t practice and implement the book. But I think you have to evaluate if you’re gonna evaluate “Getting to Yes” as a success or failure, you have to take a look at what Roger Fisher and Bill Ury, the co-authors of that book we’re intending to accomplish when they published the book. I don’t think they were trying to transform everyone in every negotiation into an interest-based, problem-solving negotiation approach. I think what they were trying to do was to create an environment where people could actually start to think strategically about the process, so they actually start to look at the research, if they start to transform their ideas based on what the research says. I think they accomplished that goal and you can take a look at the negotiation industry that “Getting to Yes” and effects spawned since it was first published in 1981 and you would say, ‘yeah, it’s a success it created an industry where people now teach and train and at least try to implement those concepts. The second thing I would say is if you talked to Roger Fisher today – and obviously he’s passed away a number of years ago now – I don’t think that his goal was to take all the people who do positional bargaining and make them into interest-based bargaining. I think he had a much more sophisticated understanding of how it is that a lot of people negotiate. I think he recognized that there was, and still is today, of people that use positional bargaining. Positional bargaining can be very, very successful and effective in certain instances, but he was trying to say, ‘Hey, the default should not just be right positional bargaining. The default should be, what is your goal? Do you care about a future relationship? Because if you do don’t just default to positional bargaining take a more sophisticated approach. Analyze and evaluate the “why,” the interest base. Then you can make some strategic decisions as to what you can do if you take those two goals as they’re really intended outcomes. I would say it’s actually been quite a success.”

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