The Fine Art of Negotiation

Negotiation Takeaways: The What’s In It for We (WIIFWe) paradigm shift asks negotiating, on-the-fence companies to reach an agreement that solves business challenges while creating market value. Getting to We Wikidata requires both parties to...


Negotiation Takeaways:

  • The What’s In It for We (WIIFWe) paradigm shift asks negotiating, on-the-fence companies to reach an agreement that solves business challenges while creating market value.
  • Getting to We Wikidata requires both parties to collect and analyze data before reporting out one set of data in a negotiation.
  • To reach a beneficial agreement, negotiating parties should align strategies with similar, if not the same, goals, objectives and initiatives in solving business problem(s).

Companies have been schooled in the principles of “Getting to Yes” since Roger Fisher’s and William Ury’s original publication of the book on effective negotiation. And most companies approach contract negotiations from a desire to optimize their own position, even going so far as to win at the expense of their partner. But it’s one thing to get to “yes” in your negotiations and another to craft a sustainable business relationship that creates value for both parties. As the 21st Century demands a more transparent and collaborative approach for working with our most strategic suppliers, a new negotiation paradigm is needed. Companies must challenge traditional negotiating practices and adhere to principles that help achieve a win-win for both the buyer and supplier—enter the What’s In It for We (WIIFWe) approach.

Make way for a new paradigm

Traditional negotiation theory assumes the classic, economic model that when each strives for his own personal interest—even at the expense of each other’s interests—the resulting deal benefits the market. When the companies get to “yes” a deal is struck that creates market equilibrium. The premise? If it was not a good deal the parties wouldn’t have reached an agreement. The conventional approach is for the buyer and the supplier to sit across the table during negotiations, standing in opposition to one another in an old-fashioned tug of war. We have all been in the situation—the age-old tit-for-tat position where you try to get to “yes” while giving up as little as you can. The power of the relationship is used up because each company tries to extract value from the other. And after partners have extracted value, the economic landscape looks bleak and renewal conversations are even more contentious.

Even contemporary, interest-based philosophies are lacking. Interest-based negotiations, premised on the classic economic theory, teach business leaders to listen to their opponent in order to maximize their own self-interest. At best, companies look for common ground through the lens of self-interest for a self-optimized solution. Parties got to yes, but is yes enough to solve the complex business problems strategic partnerships are designed to solve?

Reaching a commercial agreement with a strategic partner to solve today’s tough business problems demands the Getting to We concept. This negotiation paradigm asks partners to pull together on the same side of the rope—effectively putting the business problem on the other side of the rope. This exponential power, pooled when companies work together, helps solve tough business problems that create market value.

Does co-creating value by working together sound too good to be true? It isn’t. In fact, some of our nation’s most reputable companies have struck gold simply by sticking to the WIIFWe philosophy. Microsoft and Accenture teamed to drive up productivity and eliminate compliance risk in their finance operations, which resulted in an 18 percent improvement in productivity, an additional $63 million in costs savings and zero Sarbanes Oxley compliance issues.

Getting to WIIFWe

How does the WIIFWe concept work in practice? Negotiation skills necessary to create value stand in contrast to traditional negotiation practices. The crux of the strategic relationship is legal independence coupled with economic interdependence, i.e., the more interdependent the relationship, the greater the need for “we” thinking. Businesses should implement the five principles of WIIFWe to reach effective company results via this new negotiation paradigm shift.

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