Collaborative Negotiation

It should be simple, but yet, according to different sources, including The Road To Collaborative Negotiation by Tim Cummins, collaboration or “win-win” is still not very widespread. The question is, considering the benefits that result when you Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate, what are the inhibitors?

According to the article, the issues are often culture, time, timing, and power. Whereas Japanese approaches to business are generally patient and trusting, US approaches tend to be impatient and focused on “fidelity”. Add in the desire for solid frameworks and rules and this results in lengthy contracts covering not only all eventualities but all possibilities which only results in a greater inclination to trust the other side and an assumption of “infidelity”.

In addition, too many negotiations are undertaken under (unreasonably) tight time pressures, which is problematic since US businesses almost always believe that collaboration takes more time than they have. Furthermore, negotiators are usually “involved too late” and the more powerful party often takes the heavy handed approach of “Here are my terms. Trust me, we will collaborate later.”

This is problematic since, as the author points out, collaborative negotiations often take less time than confrontation if you can just get past the all-too-common viewpoint that it is a high-risk approach, simply because it is unfamiliar and might take more time than the traditional heavy-handed sales approach. However, the author is right in that the only way it is going to take hold is that if the more powerful organizations, like the Hondas of the world adopt it as an organizational strategy and methodology, allowing the weaker organizations to step up to the plate. Thus, the time to adopt a more collaborative approach in your strategic sourcing initiatives is now.

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