Beware Brexit Negotiators – Are You Picking Up The Crumbs, Not The Whole Pie?

Posted 15/08/2017

The concept of competitive or co-operative negotiation types, or those that claim value and those that create value, has been around in the world of negotiation, and supplier relationships, for many years. The idea of long term relationships affecting the styles of negotiation which are adopted, particularly when both parties are seeking to achieve an outcome which extends the value available for both parties is historical and well established. Examples of getting significantly more value out of value creation approaches between two parties abound, in a wide range of industries and situations from civil engineering contracts, through research and development procurement, health provider outcomes and more. 

The language used in many discussions of BREXIT appears to have wiped the memory of those approaches from those commenting. We are seeing reports of The UK needing to pay a large bill to exit; with-holding of trade discussions until all aspects of separation cost are achieved; hard border limitations; exclusion of particular industries from a future European market. 

The language used all appears to be firmly in the category of value claiming. Both sides are debating how much of a particular pie each side will get, and using positions of power to demonstrate that those demands must be met. It very much looks like hard negotiation aimed at splitting an estate up after a divorce. 

However, there can be no doubt that there is a different outcome which both sides will be entering into at some point in the future, whatever the short term positional plays are. There will be levels of trade, of exchange of people, of ongoing diplomatic relationships, security and anti-terror joint working. If those areas are designed well, then the outcomes for both sides are likely to be beneficial, or can at least be in a place where the outcomes of BREXIT allow for optimum growth on both sides. 

The challenge here is how to engage a discussion in which the approaches taken by both sides can be explored and developed in a positive, value creating way rather than seeking to take the maximum from the other party. 

This may be invisible from the outside, but we should be looking for signs that the various parties are exploring what that larger pie might look like, rather than fighting over existing crumbs. Interestingly, this may be an easier discussion for the UK to have than their colleagues across the water, as national interests are firmly defended from within the EU structure. The irony is that the ability to defend national interests was the story on which BREXIT was based (to a large extent). An example of this will be the impact of BREXIT on the European car industry. The UK has supplied the second largest number of vehicles into the European market for some time and the ability to disrupt that will be a benefit to the French, Italian and German national economies, if that outcome is sought. However, that becomes a value claiming debate. Value creation for both parties is to use the negotiation as an opportunity to streamline overall motor industry distribution and focus, with good outcomes on all sides. Just describing this gives a sense of the size of the challenge which will face any negotiator seeking to get into value creating and long term outcomes. 

This area has been discussed before, and pro-BREXIT positions seems to be to let the market decide. This may be true, but the question then becomes which market we are talking about. 

If we, on all sides, can start to move discussions towards a value creating approach, there is a better outcome available for all parties. 

When looking at our own negotiations, we need to determine which side of value claiming and creating we are aiming to be on, and the implications of that both for relationships moving forwards and the outcomes we are actually able to achieve. 

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Tagged by topic: Negotiation , News

  by Mark Hubbard

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