Is Collaboration A Myth?
In response to a past blog, Charles Rear poses a question: “I wonder if an IACCM member in a Procurement function, and an IACCM counterpart in a sales-function, have ever agreed, openly and with their employers’ blessings, to undertake a contract negotiation according to the IACCM principles of Principled (“win-win”) negotation styles. In the Western world, the instinct to keep information and skills privy to oneself, inhibits application of best practice in negotiations with external parties and knowledge sharing within one’s own organization ….”
I can certainly offer examples from both IACCM members and personal experience. But it does tend to depend on specific conditions, typically either strong personal relationships that have generated underlying trust between the negotiators, or (on the buy side) a history of adversarial relationships and disappointing outcomes that have led to internal soul-searching and a realization that things must change.
Charles is right that ‘win-win’ negotiating tends to be the exception, not the norm – in spite of the fact that a vast majority of negotiators claim that they prefer a win-win approach. It seems to me that there are several factors that result in adversarial negotiations being more typical:
1) Absence of trust.
2) Measurement systems (driven by incentives that have no connection to long-term win-win outcomes).
3) Inadequate planning.
4) Poor coordination within the internal team.
5) Absence of substantive authority to negotiate (especially within Procurement).
What are your experiences and what factors would you say lead to the predominance of a win-lose style?
(As a footnote, I should comment that while it is generous of Charles to credit IACCM with the concept of Principled Negotiation, it was of course introduced in the book ‘Getting to Yes’ some 20 years ago)