Collective Dreaming - How to Win in Negotiations

Empires are built on dreams. Olympic champions start by dreaming of winning their next match in middle school. In last season's closing episode of ABC's television series Lost, Locke shared the spirituality of why he has been placed on an island in the South Pacific that has healed his legs. Jack, his protagonist in the series, is limited to caring for the others and hoping to be rescued.

Locke is much more likely to sleep peaceably dreaming of something more than just surviving each night while Jack lies awake wondering what the next challenge will be that he will have to overcome.

According to Peter Drucker, successful companies such as Harley-Davidson and Starbucks work because they are selling a lifestyle or an image rather than simply a product. Successful companies offer more than a commodity. They create a collective dream-need through marketing that only their product or experience will satisfy.

No one enters a negotiation without an expectation of the outcome. Nor should they. Their expected outcome is their dream. To achieve that dream, they must find a way to make it the other person's "dream" as well.

Most focus on their individual needs and wants without caring about the other person's needs. To excel at negotiating, the strategy of collective dreaming is required. Collective dreaming is the process of getting everyone involved in the discussion and then having the group envision the same objective. That is, getting all concerned to want to achieve that objective albeit for differing reasons. Then they are more apt to work together to make it happen.

To do this a negotiator needs to look beyond his or her interests and conjure the ultimate outcome of the negotiation if successful for the group. Then, acting as an informal leader, he or she must present that dream to the entire group demonstrating how, if achieved, it benefits everyone.

It does not cost anything to consider another person's needs or perspective. In the coming season of Lost it will be interesting to see whether Locke or Jack prevail in creating a common goal for the survivors.