Successful negotiation

Published: 18 Nov 2014 Average Rating: 4 / 5 Print

Author: Tim Cummins

'We have to move from an environment where success is measured on concessions won, to where it is gauged by goals achieved, benefits that are shared'.

This statement was made by the head of contracting for a major state agency during a conference I attended. I like the way it is expressed. On one level, it appears simply to be a statement of win-win, but I think it injects an important additional ingredient to that win-win calculation.

The problem I have with books like Getting to Yes is that they tend to see the moment of gaining agreement as the point at which value is realized and divided. In a spot trade, perhaps even in a typical commodity contract, that may be true. But increasingly we are negotiating agreements for solutions, services and long-term projects where results are only evident over time – sometimes a very long time. In this environment, we have to evaluate negotiation success by different criteria – essentially, as the initial quote describes, by 'goals achieved, benefits shared'.

This is why the subjects that lie at the heart of good negotiations today are changing. They focus far more on the principles of how the parties will work together, how they will identify risks or challenges, how they will handle the need for change. Negotiators are establishing a roadmap or a blueprint for future engagement, not just a set of rules for a short-term transaction.

If negotiators remain fixated on winning points and gaining concessions, it means they will generally fail to establish the on-going governance and performance principles necessary for success. It also creates an environment where cooperation is threatened, where the party which was forced into concessions is seeking to gain revenge, or to rebalance the relationship.

IACCM research points to high – and in some organizations increasing – percentages of agreements that fail to deliver business goals and where neither party achieves expected benefits. I suspect that an investigation of their negotiation strategies would point to a traditional approach where negotiations proceed issue by issue, where there is no discussion of impact on value or behaviors, and where the focus is often on compliance and a 'battle of the forms'. If your organization is one of those, it is time to push for change.


Comment or read more of Tim's blog


Related Discussions

Please sign in or register to post on this forum
2019-07-28 06:49:22


For Agreement between the Parties of differnet origin , the aurgument starts up on Jurisdiction and governing law for the AGreement. while both the Parties are interes...
Replies: 4

APM Group
2014-09-14 13:08:25

Recent UK Legal chnages

I was told recently about a change to UK Law affecting contracts and the length of time and the quantity of evidence that had to be retained as a result. Please can s...
Replies: 3

2020-08-24 14:37:36

Hybrid RFI & RFP

Hi Colleagues, I trust that you are all safe and well. The leadership of the organisation that I work for is adamant on running a combined RFI and RFP process, mor...
Replies: 5

The Co-Operative
2020-07-08 10:48:57

Logistic Services

Who has examples of lost value through sub-optimal sourcing / contracting and ongoing management of logistical services from a "buy" side?
Replies: 1

Rock Central, LLC
2020-05-20 13:41:10

maintenance fees for fleet of printers

Our company has a fleet of 1800 printers and are in the middle of negotiating a maintenance contract. Wondering if anyone can help me benchmark an annual fee. We are b...
Replies: 2

Bahrain National Gas Co. (B.S.C)
2019-04-25 11:24:29

Contract Agreement

We are in a debate within the organization that I work for and that is - whether it is a good (or best) practice to always execute a Contract Agreement (signed by both...
Replies: 4

Delco Automation Inc
2018-09-17 19:01:45

Part Number vs Description

We are working on a project whereby the Engineer's tender document had an error in the specification where they listed a part number and a description of the part...
Replies: 1