Negotiation in Action
Project: Construction of the London Olympics infrastructure
Problem: Lack of resources. You’ve got a limited supply of the equipment
necessary for cycling and weightlifting.
Don’t: Say, “Clearly we’ve only got a finite amount of resources. As far
as we can see, the obvious solution is x.” You haven’t explained your side
and your language doesn’t leave room for negotiation, says David Freedman, Huthwaite International, Wentworth, South Yorkshire, England.
Do: Ask questions such as, “How many people are you expecting for the
weightlifting event? What sort of TV audience are you anticipating?” Then
ask similar questions about cycling to ascertain which event is most
important to the sponsor.
Negotiation: Propose, “Cycling seems to be our priority—even if it means
cutting some corners on weightlifting. Have I got you right there?” Wait
for the sponsor’s confirmation.
Result: You’ve established that you understand your stakeholders’ priorities, and your proposal is more likely to be approved.
Instead of concealing these issues,
keep the sponsor, customer and other
high-level stakeholders informed of setbacks so they are mentally prepared
when it comes time to negotiate.
“The project manager who surprises
the sponsor by attempting to negotiate
a three-month extension just weeks
before the project deadline will not have
much credibility,” she says.
3Do your homework—
“There’s an amazingly high percent-
age of people who enter a negotiation
without a strategy—and don’t even
know the importance of one,” says
Keld Jensen, chairman of the Cen-
tre for Negotiation at the Copen-
hagen Business School and CEO of
the MarketWatch Centre for Nego-
tiation, a consultancy in Copenhagen,
Denmark. “Project managers should
use their time before the negotiation
wisely to make the actual process go
smoothly. They should always know
their starting point, targets, overall
objectives and threshold of pain going
into the negotiation meeting.”
It never pays to be spontaneous in
negotiations, Ms. Villivallam says. “It’s
necessary to have all the facts and a
good understanding of the other side’s
Do some research. Know the origi-
nal scope, timelines, budget, goals
and how your proposed changes will
positively impact the project.