Yesterday, I received my author's copy of Betting the Company: Complex Negotiation Strategies for Law & Business, which I wrote with old friend Andrew DeGuire of Johnson Controls, Inc. We've been informed that Amazon is now shipping orders (a month earlier than expected).
So today's post is a brief excerpt, to let you all know what we've been working on for the last eighteen months.
Throughout this book, we use “complex negotiations” to mean negotiations with (or among) organizations. Why? Because nego- tiations between organizations have a number of characteristics that may place them on the complex end of any spectrum. There are six characteristics of complex negotiations, each of which presents itself most visibly in negotiations between organizations.
* Complex negotiations amplify the effect of nonrational judgments. Individual negotiations involve nonrational components and strong personalities. For various reasons we will explain in greater depth, these nonrational judgments are more frequent (and more severe) in organizations than among individuals.
* Complex negotiations also involve multiple parties. Even if the negotiation is only one organization negotiating with another, the negotiation will likely be handled by teams, and those teams will represent constituents that must be mollified.
* Complex negotiations involve multiple issues. Negotiations over a single issue depend on the amount of bargaining power each party has. By contrast, negotiations over multiple issues provide greater opportunities for agreement (where concessions on one issue can be traded against gains on other issues) or deadlock (by providing additional areas for distrust or disagreement).
* Complex negotiations take place over an extended period of time. When negotiations take place over a course of months or years, the parties develop relationships that affect the nature of the exchange.
* Complex negotiations are heavily regulated. They occur against a background of complex rules and laws. They may also occur against a background of organizational rules.
* Complex negotiations are intercultural. Each organization has its own culture. And negotiations that cross international boundaries may involve different national cultures as well.
Of course, many of these characteristics occur even in “simple” negotiations. It is possible for negotiations between individuals to involve nonrational components, third parties, multiple issues, or culture clashes. However, as explained in greater detail later in this book, because of the ways in which members of groups interact with each other, these issues are more likely to arise in the context of negotiations between organizations.
One central irony we will discuss throughout this book is that organizations are extremely helpful with complex issues: they allow us to throw more resources at a problem; they check individual personality quirks that might lead us astray; and they allow us to add expertise on new issues when necessary. But at the same time as they solve some challenges, organizations intensify others: organizations multiply the number of people who must be satisfied with the outcome; they lengthen the time required to consummate a deal, allowing new events to intervene; they can even amplify undesirable personality traits and entrench them as corporate culture.
In short, complex negotiations mean lots of moving parts, which in turn means lots of distractions and lots of chances to knock a negotiating team off its original plan. So one of the things this book is about is how to maintain strategic focus when events are exploding around you.
While I hope the connection with class-action practice will be self-evident, this book represented a departure from the doctrinal analysis so many of us lawyers spend so much time on. I'm proud of the result, and hope some of you will find it useful.