What are the core elements of the workshop?


On Monday morning of the workshop, we tell participants that the concept is simple: The purpose of our behaviors is to achieve our objectives in a particular environment, and negotiation underlies most of our behaviors at work. We do things to get what we want and need for ourselves and for the folks we represent - for our constituents. But as a species we get taught much of how to behave and what to do by the community we find ourselves in.

So a lot of what we do in organizations we learned from others, who learned from still others, who learned from still others, about how to be effective in an environment that presumably existed when those behaviors were first codified. And at that time, they probably were the best things folks could come up with for that particular environment.

But when the environment changes - and our environments have changed radically, and our objectives have also changed - are the behaviors still effective? And if not, how can we build better behaviors?

When we learned those behaviors, we also absorbed, almost by osmosis, the invisible model that underlies them, our behavioral paradigm for how to make the world work. This is not just our paradigm; it's our corporate paradigm.

Here's the dilemma. We can improve behaviors within our current model through skills training. But when the model itself can no longer solve the problems we need to solve or realize the opportunities we want to realize, skills training can't change people's behaviors. We can learn how, but the different behaviors won't last; our invisible model pulls us back into old, familiar behaviors.

This is why seeking to teach interest-based negotiation at a skills level doesn't work; IBN is based on a very different internal model. If the old model is, "It's us against you," the model underlying IBN is something like this: "For better or worse, we're in this together."

So how is behavior change possible? When we realize that our behaviors flow out of deeply held and largely unexamined assumptions, which flow out of those behavioral paradigms - our invisible models for how to make the world work - the path becomes clear. To change behaviors (individual or organizational), we need to get to the invisible model that drives our assumptions and our behaviors and change it. This is what participants do at the Negotiating Solutions workshop.

The design of the workshop involves three elements.

  1. Content about negotiation - Using the core book Getting to Yes, participants formed themselves into Tactics Teams on Monday morning. Each Tactics Team runs the workshop for an hour, teaching one of the four elements introduced in the book. They teach these concepts and methods in the context of their own functions, businesses, and industry. They provide their students a planning sheet they created, and then involve their students in a mini-negotiation key to whose wise solution is using the tools that the Tactics Team just taught them.

    • People - how to separate people issues from problem issues - dealing with both, but dealing with them separately.

    • Interests - how to get below positions to the interests and needs of the negotiators, of their constituents, and of affected third parties. Identifying interests also helps identify those elements that are not in conflict, or that are better for one, not worse for the other - ways to create value together.

    • Options - how to multiply options for mutual gain. The more time spent on identifying multiple constituents and interests, the more options emerge. Brainstorming and other option-generating resources are explored.

    • Standards - how jointly to identify legitimate criteria to use for resolving the distributive aspects of negotiation, and how to step back from negotiating content to agreeing on the procedures, process, protocol to use to conduct the negotiation.


  2. Attitudes, values and personal styles of the negotiator. The personal styles sessions help participants identify their core strengths and potential obstacles as negotiators. They learn how to build on their strengths and minimize or augment their shortcomings. They identify the personal styles of their counterparts and develop briefing notes re: how to work with a counterpart's job-, role-, and personal style-needs to build the relationships that can deal well with differences, and to create value together. This starts out being one of the stranger parts of the workshop, since it's not part of many people's normal vocabulary. It often ends up being one of the most valuable.

  3. Skill building through practice. The workshop is designed like a week-long aerobic workout. It starts with stretching exercises, then moves into individual muscle work (the Tactics Team presentations and mini-negotiations), then into increasingly complex negotiations. A change of pace negotiation on Thursday constitutes the heavy heart work of the program. The final negotiation starts on Wednesday afternoon when we invite four participants to manage teams of buyers or sellers. The managers work with the material by themselves Wednesday evening identifying how best to organize the material for sharing and planning. They lead their staffs in planning sessions on Thursday afternoon and early Friday morning. They are also available to their people during the negotiation on Friday. This negotiation explores the management of negotiators - how to allow your people to be as effective as possible. It also explores whether, in real-life negotiations, it's possible to create value together, to come to agreements far better for you and better for your counterparts, too.

On Friday, each participant receives a copy of Charting A Wiser Course: How Aviation Can Address the Human Side of Change. We wrote the book in 2003, after 14 years of running the workshop, when graduates told us they needed a way to help their people open up to the need for a paradigm-shift.

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