Negotiation Stages

Three phases of creating a public good.

  • Getting the parties into the room.
  • Reaching a bargain: Keeping the parties in the room.
  • Maintaining the agreement after the fact.

In the first stage the key is to find sufficient common cause that the parties are willing to invest in the enterprise. I can’t count how many meetings I’ve attended where some people thought they were at the second stage, since they were in a room, but in fact they were still in the first stage.

In the second stage the key is to know what’s fungible. The challenge is to search for things that can be rearranged. Again I’ve often gotten people in a room only to discover that all the resources are immovable. At that point you need to revisit the urgency of the situation.

The first and third stage are curious because both of them depend upon a common understanding about how things work. A commitment to along term agreement and it’s maintenance over time.

I’m amused by the parallel that can be drawn between these other triplets: exit, voice,and locality; or culture, market, structure.

See also: Getting to yes

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