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EVP is the Key - Evaluate Potential Solutions

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02/13/2013 11:11 AM

Last entry we discussed effective brainstorming, introducing a four stage cycle: 1. Invent All Possible Options; 2. Develop those Options; 3. Evaluate the Reasonable Options for Mutual Gain and 4. Reinvent the Options.  This entry will move onto step 4 of the Integrative Negotiation stage - Evaluate Potential Solutions.

Your first thought may be, well how does this stage differ from Brainstorming #3.  In Brainstorming #3 the possible options are evaluated for their potential to obtain mutual gain, here we are evaluating the developed options' potential to be the final agreement.  It is a subtle, though important distinction.  However, if brainstorming has been done correctly, this stage should be a simple evaluation of the options generated in brainstorming and judging which best fits the parties' interests.  Basically, this stage should be like trying a few keys in a lock to see which one fits and opens the lock, where Brainstorming #3 is about evaluating which keys should be crafted to try in the lock. 

To evaluate the potential solutions, the parties will review their interests and then assess how the options developed and reinvented in brainstorming will match those interests.  Parties may need to do a cost/benefit analysis of each possible solution and perhaps integrate options to provide the best solution.  If the parties focus first on the potential solutions that most directly match each parties' underlying interests, the process moves quicker and in turn should result in reaching an agreement quicker.  As a reminder, the object of integrative negotiation is to add value - expand the pie, or as I prefer, negotiate "A'la Mode".  That goal is clear here and the more the parties evaluate solutions from each other's frame of reference, the more likely and quickly a potential solution will be found.

One caveat to observe: if the parties reach this stage and find that a high degree of compromise is needed to find a potential solution, this may indicate that the brainstorming options lacked the creativity needed to provide a lasting solution.  The parties need to return to brainstorming if this is the case, so that the parties are more likely to agree on a solution and so that solution has the possibility to endure.

So that wraps up the Integrative negotiation stages:  1. Focus on interests; 2. Be hard on the dispute's substance, but easy on the people; 3.  Develop options with mutual gain; and 4. Evaluate potential solutionsRemember, these are not necessarily steps.  The crafty negotiator will recognize when the stages require a circling back around or a potential jump from one-side to the other.  

Please share any integrative negotiation examples you may have in the comments or just share a comment. 

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