This is one of the volumes in the new Harvard Business Essentials Series. Each offers authoritative answers to the most important questions concerning its specific subject. The material in this book is drawn from a variety of sources which include the Harvard Business School Press and the Harvard Business Review as well as Harvard ManageMentor®, an online service. I strongly recommend the official Harvard Business Essentials Web site (ckick here) that offers free interactive versions of tools, checklists, and worksheets cited in this book and other books in the Essentials series. Each volume is indeed “a highly practical resource for readers with all levels of experience.” And each is by intent and in execution solution-oriented. Although I think those who have only recently embarked on a business career will derive the greatest benefit, the material is well worth a periodic review by senior-level executives.
Richard Luecke is the author of several other books in the Essentials series. Once again, credit him with pulling together a wealth of information and counsel from various sources. In this instance, he was assisted by a subject advisor, Michael Watkins, who is an associate professor at the Harvard Business School who does research on negotiation and leadership. Together, they have carefully organized the material as follows.
First, they examine various types of negotiation (e.g. distributive and integrative) and then introduce four key concepts: BATNA (i.e. best alternative to a negotiated agreement), reservation price, ZOPA (i.e. zone of possible agreement), and value creation through trades. Next, they shift their attention to nine steps of preparation to consummate a deal; “table tactics” when engaged in negotiation; FAQs about price, process, and “people problems; barriers to agreement (e.g. negotiating with “die-hard bargainers”); mental errors (e.g. irrational expectations); the importance of establishing and then cultivating various relationships; negotiating for others (i.e. the functions of independent and non-independent agents); and finally, negotiation skills which build organizational competence (e.g. continuous improvement and using negotiation as an organizational opportunity). I especially appreciate the fact that, at the end of each of the ten chapters, a “Summing Up” section is provided which focuses on key points and, later, facilitates a review of the book’s narrative. I am also grateful for “Useful Implementation Tools” in the Appendix.
Years ago, the eminent psychologist Carl Rogers recommended three separate but related steps when one is involved in a negotiation of any kind. First, identify the issues on which both “sides” agree and set them aside. Next, agree to concessions, compromises, etc. on other issues and then set them aside. Finally, isolate the issues that remain and focus on them. This approach usually (not always) achieves, eventually, a mutually acceptable and (preferably) mutually beneficial agreement. Experts suggest that negotiation should not be viewed as a Zero Sum Game. If at all possible, the ultimate agreement should be a Win-Win for everyone involved.