Some Requirements And Principles Of Negotiation

however, rejected the recommendations of the prior evaluation and chose to use a more democratic "consensus" approach between all involved agencies rather than a central authority approach. Doing so avoided the need for arbitration procedures as well. In addition, a matrix structure was put in place to guarantee a veto right to each of the ten governmental departments involved in the process. It was believed that this consensus approach would lead to a solution acceptable to all, while protecting the jurisdictional responsibilities of all departments.

Although this approach apparently avoided difficult conflicts, and the concomitant need to arbitrate them, a post-study evaluation of the process concluded that it was neither effective nor efficient. By discarding the recommendation for a central authority body, a leadership gap arose in the decision framework and veto rights were abused by many of the participants. The leadership gap led, for example, to no one identifying incompatible objectives, rules for making decisions, or common priorities.

In terms of effectiveness, the recommendations of the study are questionable: that the dam be postponed until the year 2015 while only $35 million—less than the cost of the feasibility study—be spent on recreational facilities. Considering efficiency, it was found that many of the expensive support studies authorized by the Secretariat did not add significantly to the feasibility process. Also, the study appeared to take one to two years longer than necessary, with a correspondingly higher cost.

The evaluation proposed three probable causes of the lack of decisiveness in this study process:

1. Fear of litigation between the governmental departments and municipalities,

2. Difficulty comparing positive and negative impacts due to a lack of decision rules, and

3. Long delays and unavoidable sacrifices through a failure of the consensus process.

In retrospect, the consensus approach appeared to have been selected to protect the fields of jurisdiction of each governmental department rather than for defining the best project for the community. Since many of the goals were incompatible to start with, a consensual decision process with veto override would simply have to reject any recommendation—no matter how appropriate for the community—that was incompatible with anothei goal or disliked by any of the ten departments involved in the study. Although consensus is a highly desirable goal for public studies, leadership cannot be abandoned in the process. Attempting to avoid conflict through mandated consensus simply defeats the purpose of any study in the first place, except a study to determine what everyone commonly agrees upon.


The word "negotiation" evokes many images: Bill Clinton and Congress, the "Uruguay Round" of the GATT talks, a player's agent and the owner of an NFL team, the buyer and seller of an apartment complex, attorneys for husband and wife in a divorce settlement, union and management working out a collective bargaining agreement, tourist and peddler haggling over a rug in an Ankara market. But as we noted in the introduction to this chapter, none of these images is strictly appropriate for the project manager who must resolve the sorts of conflicts we have considered in the previous section.

The key to understanding the nature of negotiation as it applies to project management is the realization that few of the conflicts arising in projects have to do with whether or not a task will be undertaken or a deliverable produced; rather, they have to do with how results will be achieved, by whom, when, and at what cost. The implication is clear; The work of the project will be done. If conflicts between any of the parties to the project escalate to the point where negotiations break down and work comes to a halt, everyone loses. One requirement for the conflict reduction/resolution method' used by the PM is that they must allow the conflict to be settled without irreparable harm to the project's objectives.

A closer consideration of the attorneys negotiating the divorce settlement makes clear a second requirement for the PM negotiating conflicts between parties-at-interest to the project. While the husband and wife (or the rug peddler and tourist) may employ unethical tactics during the negotiation process and, if not found out, profit from them at the expense of the other party, it is much less likely for the attorneys representing the husband and wife to do so—particularly if they practice law in the same community. The lawyers know they will have to negotiate on other matters in the future. Any behavior that breeds mistrust will make future negotiations extremely difficult, perhaps impossible. The rug peddler assumes no further contact with the tourist, so conscience is the sole governor of his or her. ethics. A second requirement for the conflict resolution/reduction methods used by the PM is thai they allow (and foster) honesty between the negotiators.

The conflicting parties-at-interest to a project are not enemies or competitors, but rather allies—members of an alliance with strong common interests. It is a requirement of all conflicting parties to seek solutions to the conflict that not only satisfy their own individual needs, but also satisfy the needs of other parties to the conflict, as well as the needs of the parent organization. In the language of negotiation, this is called a "win-win" solution. Negotiating to a win-win solution is the key to conflict resolution in project management.

Fisher and Ury (13| have developed a negotiation technique that tends to main tain these three requirements. They call it "principled negotiation." The method straightforward; it is defined by four points [13, p. 1 lj.

1. Separate the people from the problem. The conflicting parties are often high! emotional. They perceive things differently and feel strongly about the diffef enees. Emotions and objective fact get confused to the point where it is no clear which is which. Conflicting parties tend to attack one another rather thá the problem. To minimize the likelihood that the conflict will become strictly in terpersonal, the substantive problem should be carefully defined. Then eve one can work on it rather than each other.

2. Focus on interests, not positions. Positional bargaining occurs when the PM says to a functional manager; "1 need this subassembly by November 15." The functional manager responds: "My group can't possibly start on it this year. We might be able to deliver it by February 1." These are the opening lines in a dialogue that sounds suspiciously like the haggling of the tourist and the rug pe^ dler. A simple "Let's talk about the schedule for this subassembly" would bj| sufficient to open the discussion. Otherwise each party develops a high level |g ego involvement in his/her position and the negotiation never focuses on ttíi real interests and concerns of the conflicting parties—the central issues of the conflict. The exchange deteriorates into a series of positional compromises that do not satisfy either party and leave both feeling that they have lost something important.

In positional negotiation, the "positions" are statements of immediate wants and assume that the environment is static. Consider these positional statements: "I won't pay more than $250,000 for that property." Or, as above, "We might be able to deliver it by February 1." The first position assumes that the bidder's estimates of future property values are accurate, and the second assumes that the group's current workload (or a shortage of required materials) will not change. When negotiation focuses on interests, the negotiator must determine the underlying concern of the other party. The real concerns or interests of the individuals stating the positions quoted above might be to earn a certain return on the investment in a property, or to not commit to delivery of work if delivery on the due date cannot be guaranteed. Knowledge of the other party's interests allows a negotiator to suggest solutions that satisfy one party's interests without agreeing with the other's position.

3. Before trying to reach agreement, invent options for mutual gain. The parties-in-conflict usually enter negotiations knowing the outcome they would like. As a result, they are blind to other outcomes and are not particulary creative. Nonetheless, as soon as the substantive problems are spelled out, some effort should be devoted to finding a wide variety of possible solutions—or elements thereof—that advance the mutual interests of the conflicting parties. Success at finding options that produce mutual gain positively reinforces win-win negotiations. Cohen |9| reports on a conflict between a couple in which "he" wanted to go to the mountains and "she" wanted to go to the shore. A creative win-win solution sent them both to Lake Tahoe.

4. Insist on using objective criteria. Rather than bargaining on positions, attention should be given to finding standards (e.g., market value, expert opinion, law, company policy) that can be used to determine the quality of an outcome. Doing this tends to make the negotiation less a contest of wills or exercise in stubbornness. If a functional manager wants to use an expensive process to test a part, it is acceptable for the PM to ask if such a process is required to ensure that the parts meet specified quality standards.

Fisher and Ury 113] have had some success with their approach, "principled negotiation," in the Harvard (Graduate School of Business) Negotiation Project. Use of their methods increases the chance of finding win-win solutions.

There are many books on negotiation, some of which are listed in the bibliography of this chapter. Most of these works are oriented toward negotiation between opponents, not an appropriate mindset for the project manager, but all of them contain useful, tactical advice for the project manager. Wall's book [33] is an excellent academic treatment of the subject. Fisher and Ury [13) is a clear presentation of principled negotiation, and contains much that is relevant to the PM. in addition, Herb Cohen's You Can Negotiate Anything |9| is an outstanding guide to win-win negotiation.

Among the tactical issues covered by most books on negotiation are things the project manager, as a beginning negotiator, needs to know. For example, what should a negotiator who wishes to develop a win-win solution do if the other party-to the conflict adopts a win-lose approach? What do you do if the other party tries" to put you under psychological pressure by seating you so that a bright light shines in your eyes? What do you do if the other party refuses to negotiate in order to put; you under extreme time pressure to accept whatever solution he/she offers? How do - you settle what you perceive to be purely technical disputes? How should you handle threats? What should be your course of action if a functional manager, with whom you are trying to reach agreement about the timing and technology of a task;, goes over your head and attempts to enlist the aid of your boss to get you to acceptt a solution you feel is less than satisfactory? How can you deal with a person yc%. suspect dislikes you? ^ jfc

In addition, the reader will find books on body language and communication iiif the bibliography. These works explain the nonverbal aspects of communication At; times, nonverbal messages are at variance with verbal messages, providing proof oh, that old adage, "actions speak louder than words." When negotiating, the PM mu be sensitive to all the messages being communicated, not merely those in verb form. i

Almost every writer on negotiation emphasizes the importance of understands ing the interests of the person with whom you are negotiating. As we noted above,, the positions taken by negotiators are not truly understandable without first under?., standing the interests and concerns that prompt those positions. The statement that a test requested for May 15 cannot be run until June 2 may simply mean that-the necessary test supplies will not be delivered until the latter date. If the PM canl get the supplies from another source in time for the May 15 deadline, the test caj be run on schedule. But the ability to do this depends on knowing why the test i to be delayed. If the negotiation remains a debate on positions, the PM will nev< find out that the test could have been run on time. The key to finding a negotiator's intei ests and concerns is to ask "Why?" when he/she states a position. The following vignett| demonstrates the maintenance of a nonpositional negotiating style. This vignette i based on an actual event and was described to the authors by an "actor" in the cas

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Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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