Category Archives: book

Book: Getting to Yes

Love
(c) 2010 David Prior – Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Licence

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In
Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton, 2nd ed.
1991 New York: Houghton Mifflin Company
ISBN-13: 978-0-395-63124-9

Personal response

Getting to Yes is a slim book that packs a lot of useful advice from corporate, government, and personal experience. The focus on principled negotiation, reason, and objective criteria will help me learn to keep my cool during difficult negotiations, and to stay focused on finding or creating options that address people’s interests instead of being limited to the positions that have been expressed.

This book focuses more on the process of negotiation, while “Thank You for Arguing” focuses more on the forms of rhetoric and the components of argument. Both are good reads in this area.

One of the key things I’d like to do to apply the lessons from this book is to develop better relationships with people, which can help when negotiating. (Not just for the purpose of negotiation, of course!) The more I understand about other people and the more they understand about me, the better the conversations can be.

Aside from applying these ideas to relationships with family and friends, I’m also looking forward to exploring this through outsourcing or other avenues.

Contents

  • Part 1: The Problem: Don’t bargain over positions

    When you think about negotiation, it’s hard to escape the stereotype of haggling over souvenirs, houses, or salaries. There are age-old tactics for dealing with those kinds of negotations: start with an extreme, and only grudgingly give up ground. The authors argue that this kind of position-based negotiation is inefficient and ineffective. Instead of getting locked into one position or another, you should focus on understanding your interests and other parties’ interests, and inventing creative solutions that work for everyone if possible.

  • Part 2: The method

    In this part, the book gives concrete tips for working through the different components of a negotiation: people, interests, options, and criteria.

    People: We often see negotiation as an adversarial problem. If you can reframe it from a contest of wills to a cooperative initiative to find something that works for all parties, negotiation becomes much easier. This can be difficult when there’s a lot of public pressure, so understand people’s private interests as well as their expressed ones. The book also points out the importance of focusing not just on the situation, but also on the relationship, and the value of developing a good working relationship outside the negotiation.

    Interests: The positions people take may give some clues about the interests they have, but these positions should not be the final word in negotiation. Find out more about what people truly value, because that may help you find creative ways to address those interests.

    Options: If you don’t firmly commit yourself to a position, you have more space to find better solutions that line up with people’s interests.

    Criteria: It’s better to negotiate using reason and objective criteria than to take arbitrary positions. Identify objective criteria you and other parties can agree on, and use those to evaluate the options. Translate irrational arguments into objective criteria, asking questions to investigate.

  • Part 3: Yes, but…

    This is where negotiation meets the real world. In this part, the book covers how to negotiate with a seemingly more powerful opponent, a stand-off, and dirty tricks.

    How to deal with power imbalances: Develop your best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA). This will help you resist pressure. If your alternative is stronger than their alternative, you will also have more negotiation room.

    It’s important to pick one alternative as your best alternative to a negotiated agreement, and to have a good idea of this alternative before negotiating. We can be overly optimistic and think of hundreds of alternatives. If we don’t choose, however, we can feel overwhelmed. Picking one forces clarity and makes it easier to walk away if necessary.

    How to deal with people who won’t negotiate: If people are locked into positions and don’t want to negotiate, or focus on irrational arguments, you still have several approaches you can try. The first approach is to focus on negotiating well yourself, using interests, options, and objective criteria. Another option is to redirect their negotiation moves in a way that focuses on interests, options, and objective criteria. The third strategy uses a trained mediator who can help you focus on collaboratively finding a solution.

    How to deal with dirty tricks: Keep your best alternative in mind. Call out the tactic and talk about it. Use objective criteria to avoid giving in to pressure. Don’t be afraid to take breaks or to walk away if necessary.

  • Part 4: In Conclusion

    It’s not about “winning” – it’s about finding ways to deal with differences. The book has a lot of advice that we’ve heard from different sources, but you still need to practice in order to get better at it.

  • Part 5: Ten questions people ask about Getting to Yes
    • Questions about fairness and “principled” negotiation
      1. “Does positional bargaining ever make sense?”
      2. “What if the other side believes in a different standard of fairness?”
      3. “Should I be fair even if I don’t have to be?”
    • Questions about dealing with people
      1. “What do I do if the people are the problem?”
      2. “Should I negotiate even with terrorists or someone like Hitler? When does it make sense not to negotiate?”
      3. “How should I adjust my negotiating approach to account for differences of personality, gender, culture, and so on?”
    • Questions about tactics
      1. “How do I decide things like ‘Where should we meet?’ ‘Who should make the first offer?’ and ‘How high should I start?'”
      2. “Concretely, how do I move from inventing options to making commitments?”
      3. “How do I try out these ideas without taking too much risk?”
    • Questions about power
      1. “Can the way I negotiate really make a difference if the other side is more powerful?” And “How do I enhance my negotiating power?”

Book: Leading Outside the Lines

zebraI want to get really good at being a fast zebra. The metaphor comes from Leading Outside the Lines, Jon R. Katzenbach and Zia Khan’s book on working with the informal organizational structure. According to Mark Wallace (former US ambassador to the United Nations), fast zebras are people who can absorb information and adapt to challenges quickly. The authors explain, “On the African savannah, it is the fast zebra that survives a visit to the watering hole, drinking quickly and moving on, while the slower herd members fall prey to predators lurking in the shadows. The fast zebra is, in essence, a person who knows how to draw on both the formal and informal organizations with equal facility.”

It seems like a business cliche – who wouldn’t want to absorb information and adapt to challenges quickly? – but Katzenbach and Khan go into more detail. “They help the formal organization get unstuck when surprises come its way, or when it’s time to head in a new direction. They have the ability to understand how the organization works, and the street smarts to figure out how to get around stubborn obstacles. They draw on values and personal relationships to help people make choices that align with overall strategy and get around misguided policy. They draw on networks to form teams that collaborate on problems not owned by any formal structure. They tap into different sources of pride to motivate the behaviors ignored by formal reward systems.”

Like the loneliness facing early adopters, fast zebras can feel isolated. Identifying and connecting fast zebras can help them move faster and make more of a difference.

I can think of many fast zebras in IBM. People like Robi Brunner, John Handy Bosma, and Jean-Francois Chenier work across organizational lines to make things happen. Lotus Connections and other collaboration tools make a big difference in our ability to connect and self-organize around things that need to be done. They also provide informal channels for motivation, which is important because this kind of boundary-spanning work often doesn’t result in formal recognition (at least in the beginning).

The book describes characteristics of organizations that successfully integrate formal and informal structures, and it has practical advice for people at all levels. It also has plenty of stories from organizational role models. My takeaway? Harnessing the informal organization and helping people discover intrinsic motivation for their work can make significant differences in an organization’s ability to react, so it’s worth learning more about that. Recommended reading.

Leading Outside the Lines
Jon R. Katzenbach and Zia Khan
Published by John Wiley and Sons, 2010

Book: Making Peace with Your Office Life

This is the first time I’ve read a comprehensive guide for debugging your work environment. “Making Peace with Your Office Life” by Linda Glovinsky (ISBN 978-0-312-57602-8) has a great way to track and analyze your work envirnoment. It’s packed with concrete advice for each situation. Not only is a book to keep, it, it’s a book to give to friends who need the help.

The table of contents is too high-level, so I’ve written down the situations described in pages 175 to 304 to help you decide.

Peace with the Place

  • I feel like I’m in jail: Confinement
  • All I do is sit: Inactivity
  • I’m sick of beige, white, and gray: Sensory Deprivation
  • I’m working in Grand Central Station: Sensory Overload
  • My ____ hurts: Ergonomic Issues
  • The &^%@#! _______ is broken again!: Equipment Issues

Peace with the Chaos

  • I can’t find that report: Paper Management
  • I have 400 unread e-mails: E-mail Overload
  • Oops! I lost that file: Hard Drive File Problems
  • I don’t have the information I need to do my job: Information Access Issues

Peace with the Overwhelm

  • I never get caught up: Unrealistic Workload
  • I’m not allowed to make a mistake: Unrealistic Quality Standards
  • I’m getting it from all directions: Conflicting Demands
  • I’m constantly hitting roadblocks: Obstacles
  • People keep barging in on me: Interruptions

Peace with the Tasks

  • I hardly ever do the same thing twice: Excessive Task Variety
  • I’m afraid I’ll get fired if I don’t look busy: Task Insufficiency
  • I do the same things day after day: Repetitiveness
  • I’m working on an assembly line: Task Fragmentation
  • Why did I go to college?: Intellectual Deprivation
  • I just can’t do this: Daunting Tasks
  • I have no control over how I do my job: Autonomy Issues
  • I can’t tell if I’m doing a good job: Lack of Measurable Outcomes

Peace with the Disconnect

  • I miss the people I love: Separation Issues
  • I don’t really know the people I work with: Isolation
  • I’m nobody, who are you?: Status and Identity Issues
  • I just had a huge fight with so-and-so: Conflict
  • So-and-so and I got our wires crossed: Communication Problems
  • I hate serving on committees: Meeting Issues

Peace with the Boss

  • My boss expects me to be a mind reader: Unclear Instructions
  • My boss watches every move I make: Micromanagement
  • My boss is an idiot: Incompetence
  • My boss doesn’t know what I look like: Avoidance
  • My boss is a crook: Ethical Issues
  • My boss is a wuss: Lack of Authority
  • My boss is the boss from hell: Bullying

Peace with the Coworkers

  • If my coworker does that one more time…: Annoying Little Habits
  • I can’t get my coworker to do anything until the last minute!: Procrastination
  • My coworker always has to win: Competitiveness
  • My coworker always does things by the book: Rigidity
  • My coworker doesn’t toe the line: Laziness
  • My coworker is an idiot: Incompetence
  • My coworker is a slob: Messiness
  • My coworker is a whiner: Griping

Peace with the Culture

  • I have to wear a mask: Anonymity
  • Why do even the smart people talk like idiots?: Office-speak
  • I hate having to wear a tie: Clothing Issues
  • I don’t know what the rules are: Romance and Sex
  • It’s just because I’m…: Discrimination

Peace with the Game

  • They don’t pay me enough for what I do: Financial Issues
  • I only hear about it when I’ve screwed up: Lack of Encouragement
  • The performance appraisals aren’t fair: Unjust Evaluations
  • I’m just a secretary: Low Prestige and Rankism
  • I don’t believe in what this organization is doing: Meaninglessness

“Making Peace with Your Office Life”, Linda Glovinsky (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2010; ISBN 978-0-312-57602-8)

From the book bag

I love reading. Love love love love.

reading

Here are a few more books:

image Fight For Your Money: How to Stop Getting Ripped Off and Save a Fortune
David Bach, 2009

Decent reference, useful form letters. Nothing too surprising in terms of advice. I like this more than his other books, which tend to hammer in the Latte Factor a bit much. Good to give to people who are just starting out in Canada.

The Illusions of Entrepreneurship: The Costly Myths That Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Policy Makers Live By
Scott A. Shane, 2008

Surprising data-driven insights into entrepreneurship. Depressing in some places (such as when he’s looking at the statistics for women and entrepreneurship), and encouraging in others (such as when it comes to capitalizing new businesses). Something to read in a library.

How are these Friday book reviews working out for you? How can I make them better?

Book: Beyond Booked Solid

Beyond Booked Solid: Your Business, Your Life, Your Way Its All Inside
Michael Port, 2008

(This link is an Amazon affiliate link, but if you’re near a public library, take advantage of it. I borrowed this book from the Toronto Public Library. =) )

Michael Port’s follow-up to Booked Solid focuses on how to grow your business beyond yourself, and is an excellent read for people interested in taking the next step.

I’m curious about the A3 Reports he describes on pp. 61-62. The A3 Report summarizes a business situation on a single sheet of 11.7”x16.5” paper. It would be interesting to use this structure to think through personal situations as well. =) (I guess I’m weird that way.)

  • Title of report, name, and related information
  • Theme/objective
  • Current situation analysis
  • Root cause analysis
  • Alternatives
  • Recommendations
  • Future state picture
  • Implementation plan

On page 94, he also provides some tips on making things happen, and then he fleshes them out over the next pages.

  • Collaborate.
  • Adopt practices for exploring a variety of perspectives.
  • Coordinate meticulously.
  • Listen generously.
  • Build relationships intentionally.
  • Have clear intentions.
  • Develop habits of commitment making and fulfilling.
  • Tightly couple learning with action.
  • Call on your talents.
  • Bring your passion to the project.
  • Embrace uncertainty.
  • Have a compelling story for your project.

On page 146, he offers tips and outsourcing work to other firms. He firmly believes that you shouldn’t outsource in a way that creates a single point of failure for your business. If you work with firms and document your systems well, you can get back up and running after unexpected difficulties.

On page 173, he makes a particularly good point relevant for public speakers. He says, “Before I give a speech, I need to be careful not to try to create a particular energy. Instead I tap into the audience’s energy. We all need to tap into the energy of the people we’re working with. There’s only so long you can be an energetic cheerleader for a project if the people around you need to be manipulated into corresponding energetic responses. I’m sure you’ve all thought how your energy level rises around people who are excited about the work they’re doing or, for that matter, how your energy lifts with someone who has a zest for life.”

Another good take away can be found on page 177, where he advises, “Schedule fun once a day — after your normal working schedule.” This not only helps you include your productivity by encouraging you to be more efficient, it also helps you manage your energy.

Worth reading, particularly if you’re interested in scaling up.

Book: On Becoming a Leader

Norman Lear would add to this that the goal isn’t worth arriving at unless you enjoy the journey. “You have to look at success, incrementally,” he said. “It takes too long to get to any major success…. If one can look at life as being successful on a moment-by-moment basis, one might find that most of it is successful. And take the bow inside for it. When we wait for the big bow, it’s a lousy bargain. They don’t come but once in too a long time. ” (p.51)

No leader sets out to be a leader. People set out to live their lives, expressing themselves fully. When that expression is of value, they become leaders.

So the point is not to become a leader. The point is to become yourself, to use yourself completely — all your skills, gifts, and energies — in order to make your vision manifest. (p.111-112)

On Becoming A Leader: Revised Edition
Warren Bennis

(Disclosure: The link above is an Amazon affiliate link. That said, I recommend checking out your local library. I got this book from the Toronto Public Library, yay!)

Many people worked long hours and sacrifice other parts of their lives in order to achieve career success. They want the executive title, the high salaries, the decision-making power, and the recognition. I don’t think that kind of career lifestyle is a great fit for me. Instead of sacrificing so much for a big potential payoff, I’d rather focus on living well at each step, and feeling successful in each moment. The core of my work is figuring out who I am, what talents I can bring, and what difference I can make.

What could help you express yourself more fully?