Improve Your Negotiations With The 5 Golden Rules.   LEARN THEM

P.F. Chang’s is expanding internationally and doing well despite our economic challenges. How? By increasing operational efficiencies, lowering costs and training its personnel to do things better, according to Newsweek.

How can your organization position yourself for similar success?

According to a new book by Harvard Program on Negotiation-affiliated Professors Hallam Movius and Lawrence Susskind titled “Built to Win: Creating a World-Class Negotiating Organization,” developing and improving organizations’ core negotiation capabilities represent a “potentially rich, and underexploited, source of competitive advantage.”

Organizations that do so can “1) reach consistently higher value agreements and know when and why to walk away from deals, 2) achieve and implement agreements efficiently, and 3) protect relationships and reputations.”

Movius and Susskind recommend a three-step approach:

• Assess challenges and opportunities.

First, assess your current approach to negotiations and ensure that your organization consistently trains your front-line negotiators in purchasing, sales, legal, etc. in a practical research-based negotiation methodology. Make sure your diagnostic assessment includes clear criteria on how to evaluate negotiation success and failure.

• Create a culture of learning.

Some organizations just let their negotiators loose with almost no organizational thought and preparation concerning their negotiations’ strategic elements. Movius and Susskind note that this frequently sets them up to fail.

They suggest that organizations “create a culture of learning” and “provide a common language” and methodology that their negotiators should use, including the use of internal “negotiation coaches” that can offer guidance before, during and after negotiations.

• Sustain your competitive advantage.

Finally, Movius and Susskind note that substantially improving organizational capability for negotiating requires ongoing reinforcement at many levels, including the sharing of results, success stories, lessons learned and the possible realignment of incentives that can prevent long-term success.

Published June 4, 2009 The Arizona Republic

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