The Camp System
To repeat: Win-win is often win-lose because it invites unnecessary compromise, because it is emotion-based, not rfemion-based, and because it plays to the heart, not to the head. And one more thing: Win-win is not based on definitive principles; it’s based on mush like the definition of a “wise agreement” I’ve already cited.
A win-win negotiation is not controlled in a clear, step-bystep way. That’s just one reason win-win gets slaughtered in the real business world, again and again and again. I know CEOs who are proud of their deal making, but they have no discipline, no real basis for making their decisions. They’re shooting fromthe hip under the assumption that everyone else is shooting from the hip. But some of their adversaries aren’t. Some are shooting with a telescopic lens and the unwary win-win adversary is the target. It’s not a fair fight.
Many readers will have heard Ross Perot’s often-told story about the American who wants to buy a camel, pulls up at a tent with half a dozen camels staked in front, and asks the owner about one particular animal. The bedouin replies, “Oh, that’s my son’s camel, his pet. I couldn’t sell that one.” The American looks nonplussed, gets back into his Range Rover, and starts to drive off. The bedouin runs after him, shouting, “I thought you wanted to buy my camel!”
I agree with Ross Perot: Americans don’t know how to negotiate! Okay, you ask me and Perot, how did these CEOs get to the top if they’re such incompetent negotiators? Since win-win isn’t a system and offers no real basis for judging those who “use” it, mediocrity flourishes without being detected. We all know there’s a fair amount of mediocrity in American business, and I believe the win-win paradigm is partially responsible. So what if the negotiator settled for offering a 27 percent volume
discount, while his bosses were hoping he’d only have to offer 24. He tried, and it’s only a 3 percent difference, and it was win-win, so break out the bubbly. No one has any idea how much, if any, volume discount should have been offered and would have been accepted. Or change the perspective: The buyer was hoping to get a 27 percent discount but only got 24, and under win-win who knows how much she could have gotten with better negotiating? So break out the bubbly on the other side of the table.
My book introduces a system. With it, you do know how much discount should have been offered, and you do not offer one dime more. With my system, you focus on goals and behavior you can control and ignore results you cannot control. The system is pretty simple to understand, I believe, in its basics, but it does take strict discipline and a great deal of practice to employ successfully, whether you’re negotiating the price of a Pokemon card, a new house, or a multimillion-dollar deal for, or with, a multinational. This discipline and practice have changed the lives of my clients – not only because they’re bringing home a lot more money than in the past, but in the broader context of a life lived with boss, coworkers, teammates, spouse, children, friends. No matter your walk in life, if you sat down and calculated the number of negotiations you handle in a busy week, the answer would astound you. I did this once for myself and got up to one hundred before deciding that enough was enough.