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The Perfect Storm -- Brainstorm That Is

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01/17/2013 11:03 AM

Continuing the discussion of the four steps for an integrative negotiation, this entry discusses step 3: developing mutual gain options.  Since integrative negotiations is about finding a win-win solution, this step is key to achieving that goal.

The main purpose of this step is to develop a solution which provieds all parties with the items or solutions they value most.  To achieve this purpose, a perfect (brain)storm will get the parties there.  Brainstorming alters parties' frames of mind and reference in order for the problem to be considered from the different perspectives and vantage points of the parties, including vantage points created during the brainstorming process.  To achieve the perfect brainstorm, the integrative negotiator should:

1. Invent all possible options;

2. Develop those options;

3. Evaluate reasonable options focused on mutual gain; and 

4. Reinvent the options based on the evaluations.

First, the parties should look at invent all possible options.  This should be done initially with no criticism and without obligating the generating party to own, develop, or accept the option.  By eliminating these obligations, the parties are more free to make suggestions.  This permits more creative options to be generated, increasing the possibility of creating the best win-win solution.

Next, once the parties have generated as many options as possible, the development of those options should take place.  This stage is to start the process of details-what will it take to achieve that option and how does that meet the parties' interests.  

Third, the parties now should evaluate the options with an eye toward mutual gain.  The parties should look at pros and cons of each situation, searching to discover how the best possible options will achieve all parties' highest priorities or interests.  In this stage, some options may be eliminated.

Lastly, the parties should reinvent the best potential options based upon the evaluations.  The evaluations should not just be "one round".  To be successful at finding the best possible solution, the parties should alter and re-alter the potential options, expanding the bargaining stakes to obtain "something for everyone", and treat each option as a tentative agreement subject to improvement.  In more complex negotiations, the parties may need to generate a joint collection process for additional data, which may include consulting with experts.

Note that the selection and evaluation of the best options are not done during this process, that will take place in step 4 which will be discussed next time.

Want more than a list to help you be a perfect brainstormer?  Click this link for a more moving explanation 

Please share any comments or experiences below!

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