четверг, 14 июня 2012 г.

Negotiation Books Reviews

Here's a great new article written by Moty Cristal, our Professor of Professional Practice in Negotiation Dynamics, published on Forbes Russia. The original Russian version you can find here.

Dear Readers,
As many of you have requested that I'll review and recommend negotiation books, I've picked the most valuable books on my negotiation books' shelf. There are plenty of negotiation books. Most of them offer a "manual" of "how to…". However, I don't believe that there is a manual which can cover all the various scenarios that could be developing during a given negotiation process. Let alone when it is written from a cultural perspective, and you are trying to apply American negotiation tips to a negotiation session between a Russian business man and a Japanese business woman.

This is the reason that I've picked five different books which are bringing more "concepts" than "manuals". Once you read them, they are easily adjusted to the Russian, or any other, negotiation culture. Some of them were translated to Russian, however, as I'm not speaking Russian (yet..) I can't guarantee the quality of their cultural modification to the Russian business culture. In any case, I'm confident that you, as learned readers, will know how to do the required cultural modifications.

Getting to Yes (Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton)

Probably the most classic and worldwide known book on negotiation, by the Harvard Negotiation Projects professors. The book, first published in 1981, turned the negotiation from a mathematical and quantitative art (See: Howard Raiffa, The Art and Science of Negotiations) to a popular science. The book states a four pillars methodology:

(1) Separate people from the problem. Meaning, look at the issues to be negotiated, rather than focus on the people because many times focusing on people divert your attention to the emotional level.

(2) Focus on interests, not positions. Positions are what people say they want. Interests, or needs, are the reason why they want it. Positions usually conflict. Interests - not necessarily. The famous fight between two people who desperately need an orange to save the life of a dear person. Each one says that he needs the orange, actually the must have it! These are their positions. While exploring their interests, they realized that one needs the pealing and the other needs the juice. Each one can have all their interests satisfied, rather than cutting it into halves. This is the famous Harvard "win-win" concept, still easier said (and taught) than done, but after 18 years of negotiations, many times in the most difficult situations, I can tell you that this principle works very well.

(3) Brainstorm options. Once the parties' interests are clear, a good negotiator can lead the process and brainstorm options which will satisfy these interests. I know, from my teaching experience in SKOLKOVO, that in the rigid and formal structure of many of the Russian business this pillar is difficult to implement, however, Russian business environment is rapidly changing and several companies with whom I've worked in the past two years were able to conduct creative brainstorming sessions, and even the more traditional ones, with good facilitation and appropriate preparation of key stakeholders could have generate productive ideas stemming from participants.

(4) Using objective criteria. It means that a good negotiator will not rely only on the willingness of the other side, but rather will look for an external standard, reference, criteria to rely as a persuasive argument. Relying on an objective criteria (law, market price, common practice) could be use either as a sword, to persuade your counterpart, or as a shield to reject an option which does not meet the objective criteria.

To sum, "Getting to Yes", despite of being strongly rooted in the American business culture and social codes, is still the first book you should have if you want to speak the international language of negotiations.

"The Heart and Mind of the Negotiator" by Leigh Thompson

This book, coming now in its 4th edition, is probably the most comprehensive negotiation "toolbox" which debunks the most common myths (such as that good negotiators are born, or take risks or rely on intuition), and offers a long lists of tactical moves, based on years of psychological and sociological research. The book further offers implementation techniques for distributive negotiations (when you cannot create win-win solutions) and collaborative process (win-win). A separate chapter refers to the concepts of trust, power and ethics, and I would recommend my Russian readers to read with cautious due to the different cultural interpretations of these concepts. Furthermore, the book offers an excellent summary of techniques to deal with multiparty negotiations, email negotiations and mediated processes.

Taking into consideration my strong reluctance to offer a "manual", "The Heart and Mind of the Negotiator" is probably the leading book in terms of listing techniques and tactics in the world of negotiations. 

"Hostage at the Table" by George Kohlrieser

What is unique about Prof. George Kohlrieser is his background as crisis negotiator. The negotiation book he wrote is one on the must have on your negotiation library, not because it provides a detailed manual like "The Mind and Heart" but rather because he provides a wider context, and put the negotiation process in the realm of leadership, decision making dynamic and mainly the psychological dynamics that drive negotiators across the table.

Drawing concepts and terminology from hostage situation, Prof. Kohlrieser argues that one of the main challenges that a negotiator has to overcome is his or her own psychological trap, and "being a hostage" by her own beliefs. Furthermore, the book – through stories and examples from his professional background – emphasizes the personal connection a negotiator has to build with the other side in order to secure a deal: what are the bonding techniques, how to overcome misunderstandings, the importance of building trust in situation that are far from it, and how to work with the important "reciprocity norm": a social phenomenon which drives people, even when they are not necessarily incline to, to reciprocate and exchange concessions.

Being a hostage negotiator myself, and working with Russian businesspeople, I've seen many times how these talented individual are being held hostages by their own business culture, social constrains and political reality. This book could serve a great start to explore and take advantage of the tremendous potential exists in the young Russian businesspeople once they "free themselves".

3D Negotiations, by David Lax and James Sebenius

25 years after the first publication of "Getting to Yes", 3D Negotiations, written by two of the most proactive negotiation scholars at Harvard which I've been cooperating with them in recent years, 3D negotiation set up the next level of negotiation books from the heart of the negotiation research at Harvard Program on Negotiation. If the books I've described before focus almost solely on the negotiator and the negotiation moves that the negotiator has to complete in order to secure a good deal, came Lax and Sebenius and for the first time zoom out the focus of the negotiation to the scene itself. Not only what happens across the table, but also how the table is set up.

Lax and Sebenius argue that in order to be successful in negotiation you need not only to build an effective process across the table (1D), and not only provide useful methods to brainstorm creative idea, and how actually move from positional bargaining to win-win outcome (2D), but focus also on the third dimension which is all the actions and moves that one has to do in the overall negotiation scene which will bring the counterpart to say yes. Many negotiators focus on what happens at the table. Lax and Sebenius pay attention to it and at the same time emphasize that a skilled negotiator needs to set up the scene also by increasing, for example, the "cost of no deal" to the other side. By doing this, and maneuvering moves which will leave the other side with worse alternatives, a skilled negotiator will secure a better deal, in a more effective process.

Since 2003, I've been exploring the nature of negotiation systems, and this excellent Harvard book simplifies the important principle of taking care of what happens at the table, by effecting what happens away from the table. This book is an important complementary to the first generation of negotiation books.

The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favorite thinkers. A brilliant man who really understand reality and human beings, (see for example his 2004 TED talk), and he has not – as far as I know – have written any negotiation book. However, his Tipping Point is probably one of the "must have" books in your library, definitely if you are to work with the public, either in business or public sectors. This is the reason why always buy several copies every time I'm at Heathrow airport to give as a gift to friends and colleague. The Tipping Point offers the most comprehensive and simple framework for the spread of social ideas.

It argues that in order to turn an idea into a social phenomenon you need to secure three conditions. First, the stickiness factor. The idea has to be "sticky". It has to be innovative, and to generate positive emotional attachment. It has to "speak" to people, their values and attitude. It has to promise them a good future. The second, "the law of the few". In order to spread a social idea you have to use "connectors". People who know people, people who have thousands of friends on their facebook accounts and that people value and appreciate their opinion. The third is "the power of context". Even the stickiest idea, spread by the most connected people, will not turn into a social epidemic unless it appears in the right political, social, economic context.

Dear readers, the list of good and recommended books is much longer. I've picked the five which I believe can start an effective journey for you in the world of negotiations.

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