Brainstorming as Part of the Negotiation Process

Man's ability to dream, to think beyond the obvious sets him apart from the animal kingdom. This unique characteristic has resulted in bows, arrows, slings, knives, spears, black powder, guns, bombs, nuclear warheads and other tools needed to advance civilization!

Brainstorming how to solve a challenge is the crux of advanced negotiations. Until the parties at the table begin to work together to resolve their issues the confrontation is merely a brawl or barter. It does not create value.

Negotiations should yield incremental value in that both parties should be able to leave the table thinking they gained more than the other person.

Brainstorming goes hand and glove with the whole-pie theory of negotiations. Before focusing on the base terms of a negotiation take the time to get as many issues as possible on the table. Expanding the scope of the discussion should reveal areas of agreement that help to offset the compromises that will eventually be required to settle the primary point of dissension.

The globalization of the discussion, the brainstorming to add incremental issues, and the process of reaching ancillary agreements creates the groundwork for the final, major negotiation. The incentives provided to assuage the ancillary needs can help to justify the required concessions on the major issue.

It is the capacity to look beyond the issues at hand to come up with viable solutions that make negotiating an art form rather than mere bartering or brawling. Before you actually sit down to negotiate, seek to uncover the ancillary issues that may have a bearing on the discussions. Brainstorming prior to a negotiation or settlement conference could include:

-Other related or unrelated areas of opportunity to work together.
-Issues related to the specific topic at hand that have yet to be raised.
-Common goals and objectives the parties might have.
-Common acquaintances the parties might have that may add credibility to either's arguments.
-Common challenges the parties may be facing on a micro, macro and global level.

You won't know where the brainstorming might lead. The time it takes to discover related issues typically pays dividends once the final negotiations commence. Be patient. Be diligent. Be thorough. Doing something right makes it worth doing.