change management facilitation
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Traditional negotiations

In traditional negotiations, the underlying assumption is that, at worst, there will be a win-lose outcome and at best, a compromise. A 'win-win' or mutual gains outcome is not a consideration.

This kind of negotiation is characterised by:
  • Predetermined mandates
  • High/low starting positions
  • Demands and counter demands
  • Fighting talk
  • Hiding and distorting information
  • Slow moves from concession to concession
  • Demeaning of concessions made
  • Loss of face
  • Threats of and resort to power
  • Anger and frustration
  • Eventual compromise
  • Dissatisfaction with the process and the outcome
  • Eventual job losses to counter expensive outcomes

Mutual gains negotiation

In contrast, mutual gains (or 'win-win') negotiation is characterised by:
  • An assumption that it is possible to find an outcome which simultaneously meets the needs of both parties
  • Focusing on the needs of both parties rather than on demands
  • Delaying the mandating process until needs are understood
  • Delaying solution search until the problem is understood
  • An open exchange of information
  • A creative search for solutions which simultaneously meet the needs of both parties
  • Flexibility
  • Recognition of independence and inter-dependence
  • Dignity and mutual respect
  • Calmness and restraint
  • Non adversarialism
  • Bringing people to their senses - not their knees
  • Satisfactory and lasting outcomes

Making the change

Parties who make the change have realised that they can no longer:
  • let the strongest idea rather than the best idea prevail
  • use power as a first, rather than a last priority
  • harm relationships rather than build relationships
  • spend more time on exploiting each other's weaknesses than talking about mutual gain
  • produce winners and losers or truces in which all parties believe they have lost
  • retrench workers to recoup the losses incurred due to bad deals

They do however find it difficult to make the change from the old to the new and to make the transformation a success they usually:
  • Commit themselves to change
  • Jointly seek independent outside help
  • Focus the initial change on a specific set of negotiations
  • Jointly attend a training workshop on mutual gains negotiations before the negotiations start
  • Jointly attend a pre-negotiation meeting to negotiate on how they are going to negotiate
  • Delay the usual mandating process until after they have explored problems and needs
  • Use an independent facilitator to assist in the initial negotiations

In these negotiations, the facilitator helps the parties reach mutual gains outcomes. It can be done without external facilitation but parties generally find it helpful to have a facilitator in the initial negotiations. The parties seek to pre-empt the damage done by failed negotiations by obtaining assistance from a facilitator at a much earlier stage.

Text adapted from writings by John Brand and Felicity Steadman (Conflict Dynamics)

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2014 Change Management Facilitation (Pty) Ltd
Text : Harvard Law School (PON) and Conflict Dynamics. Images : CTI, Die Burger, Microsoft and Kobus Opperman