Have you ever gone through a tough negotiation only to find you are back at the table when “business happens?” You’re not alone. Conventional negotiations approaches are designed to “get to yes,” – in essence find the right give and take with a supplier to set the right price for certain deal specifics at a certain point in time. All too often, however, getting to yes is not enough.

Why? Simply put, most negotiations (and contracts) are written to support a specific transaction – or “deal.” But in reality, many situations require a longer-term relationship where the parties must interact in a dynamic environment. This is especially true when unknown and risky factors exist that the parties need to take into consideration.

Is there a way to address how to negotiate when it comes to more complex and dynamic situations? Yes. The steps and principles featured in “Getting to We: Negotiating Agreements for Highly Collaborative Relationships,” enable businesses to change the goal of the negotiation from getting the best deal to negotiating the foundation of the relationship itself. The deal is no longer just another deal, but rather a mutual partnership with the intent to create a sustainable relationship that will survive in a dynamic and risky environment.

Negotiating the true nature of the relationship means that the parties move out of a competitive tit-for-tat cycle of actions and reactions and instead create a negotiation atmosphere that encourages cooperation.

The Getting to We process comprises five steps:

1. Getting ready for WIIFWe – Shifting to a collaborative relationship means shifting your mindset from “What’s in it for Me” (WIIFMe) to “What’s in it for We” (WIIFWe). In this step, organizations determine whether a WIIFWe mindset has merit for them and their situation, and whether they are willing to explore establishing or renegotiating a highly collaborative relationship.

2. Jointly agree on a shared vision for the partnership – The parties discuss and create a shared vision for their partnership. A shared vision gives the partnership its purpose beyond a series of transactions.

3. Develop the guiding principles for the partnership –The Getting to We process demands that partners not only improve the relationship, but also abide by a set of principles— reciprocity, autonomy, honesty, equity, loyalty and integrity – to drive highly collaborative behavior. This is critical because applying the guiding principles to a business relationship sets the parties on the collaborative journey to live as “we.”

4. Negotiate as We – At this point the actual negotiation begins. The first negotiation is creating the negotiation rules by agreeing on a common set of negotiation strategies and tactics both parties agree to follow. For example, they may determine that the classic “good cop, bad cop” negotiating tactic is banned. Once the parties have the negotiating rules, they will use them to negotiate the specifics of the deal such as the scope of work, pricing and terms and conditions.

5. Living as We – With the deal specifics negotiated, the parties turn to the final stage of their process: living as We. In this step the parties agree on the governance structure and mechanisms the parties will use to keep in alignment when “business happens.” This step is essential to creating a sustainable relationship.

Combined, the five steps lay a strong foundation for an organization and their supplier that can sustain the test of time.

Kate Vitasek is an international authority for her award-winning research and development of the Vested business model for highly collaborative relationships. She is the author of six books, including “Getting to We: Negotiating Agreements for Highly Collaborative Relationships.” Vitasek is a faculty member at the University of Tennessee.

At the 2016 NIGP Forum, Vitasek presented three “Getting to We” sessions, including:
“Negotiating Agreements for Highly Collaborative Relationships,”
“How a Statement of Intent Will Help You Build a Better Supplier Relationship,” and
“Negotiations Rules You Can’t Resist Loving and Using”

Go here for more information on the “Getting to We: Negotiating Agreements for Highly Collaborative Relationships” volume.

In the video, Kate Vitasek, discusses the process of getting to the total cost of ownership.

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