Is strength the secret of negotiation?

Strength may not be an advantage

In this post, identify and consider the secrets to negotiating in today’s more collaborative and highly networked world. The belief that “the secret of negotiating requires working from a position of strength” is challenged. Alternate perspectives are explored. The conversation starts with today’s mechanisms that create adversarial relationships and increase conflict, and ends with the secrets to working together and building trust through cross-connections.

Strength-based Negotiation — Photo of Bison by Richard Lee on Unsplash

The Belief — Buyer and Strong Negotiator

The Buyer’s belief is:

“I love the deal. I leverage a position of strength to gain concessions and advantageous terms. The position of strength enables me to get “more-for-less” by leveraging both a competitive selection process I control and solid negotiation before making a commitment. This belief, my daily experience and best practices in my field confirm this reality. This mode of operation has become part of my identity as a buyer of services and effective negotiator.”

The buyer is running a competitive selection process asking vendors to fix price work. This is based on a fixed scope but as all vendors know is subject to unstated unknowns. These may include 1) processes they don’t control or fully know, 2) requirements not fully developed and 3) dependencies on teams whose engagement is not fully committed. The vendor’s defense strategy is a work statement written to protect themselves against these risks. The lines are drawn up.

Is a position of strength a benefit?

Let’s explore how tied we are to leveraging a position of strength:

  1. What is its value when purchasing a large batch of work in a single transaction with competitive pressure?
  2. What’s the impact of taking a dominating position? i) does it impact how partners negotiate substantive differences? does it create delays when bargaining? ii) Later, will the vendor aim to maximize their advantage when respond to a scope change and there is a switch in power dynamic?
  3. Does it define us as a buyer, our delivery value, and managements’ perception of our value?
  4. Does this belief limit our value as a buyer?

Let’s explore the reality of the belief, please see Medium publication: “Decentralized Teams”

Is strength the secret of negotiation? Strength may not be an advantage

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