“Under the false assumption that negotiation is all art and no science most people fail to prepare adequately for negotiation” – (D. Malhotra – M. Bazerman)
Is it enough to know how to leverage opportunities or is it best to know how to create and design them? Where can we find opportunities? First and foremost, opportunities stem from ideas, and the best ones are generated when we interact. Human interactions create the most significant opportunities. However, every interaction inevitably takes place in an area of potential conflict. Even the simplest of meetings between the representatives of two companies, aimed at generating a new business opportunity, takes place in an area of potential conflict. Given the scarcity of resources, time, space, and communication that characterizes our existence, conflict is not only and necessarily an irreconcilable dispute of high emotional intensity. Even the simplest of disagreements between two parties, whether apparent or real, is a conflict. Reaching a new agreement between two business realities, therefore, requires being able to manage and resolve conflict, even the simplest. How? By stepping aside from the logic of “positions”, identifying and voicing the parties’ different interests, and then trying to make them “fit”. In other words, on the basis of scientific competence, the conflict must be resolved through the same interaction that generated it. Entrepreneurs, managers, and experienced professionals are well aware that coming to an agreement is a goal that can become impossible if you move from “positions” (what?). Instead, bearing in mind the (different) perceptions and emotions of the parties present at the “table”, you must identify and focus on their actual interests (why?). You cannot attempt to reconcile the technical differences of the dispute unless you establish a relationship of trust between the parties, and both agree upon the interaction methods and construction of the agreement in the first place. Trust does not imply “friendship”. In order to manage this complexity, it is not possible to “improvise”, but requires the skill to negotiate, that is a scientific competence that will be increasingly important for the future of businesses and professionals. In fact, unlike in the logic of law, as per negotiations, there are no legal persons, but only individuals and their group interests, that become all the more difficult to identify and “compose”, as they remain hidden or dissolve behind the “position” assumed by each party (often due to the incidence of emotions and communication difficulties). This is why negotiating skills, as a tool to enable effective relationship management and the “unraveling” of interests, will be fundamental to the future of businesses and the work of professionals. The ability for firms to make agreements, and therefore to create value, will be proportional to the competence that both parties at the table will have in the science of negotiation. Looking at the skills for the future, Luiss offers students in their final year of law the opportunity to develop and refine their negotiation skills to “support” companies. Last month, the Department of Law launched the Mediation and ADR Clinic. The project – which is under the supervision of Professor Antonio Punzi and coordinated by Professor Paolo Tullio – is led by Angelo Monoriti and Rachele Gabellini, professors of negotiation and Luiss Alumni. The Mediation and ADR Clinic takes place in collaboration with three major companies including Danone, Google Cloud, and Lux Vide and, in particular, thanks to the availability and presence of their respective managers:
- Giovanna Rosato – Alumna Luiss and currently, Head of Compliance, Italy and Greece – Danone
- Manuela Monterossi – Alumna Luiss and currently, Head of Legal and Commercial Affairs – Lux Vide S.p.A.
- Raffaella d’Ercole – Field Sales Manager Italy (DO & Sell Out) – Danone
- Andrea Cuccaro – Head of Branded Entertainment, Product Placement & Special Projects – Lux Vide S.p.A.
- Maria Strada – Google Cloud – Head of Deal Pursuit, Italy, Iberia, Israel, CEE, Turkey, and MEA – Google
- Chiara Caroti – Google Cloud – Enterprise Commercial Segment Lead – Italy and Malta – Google
- Gennaro Di Napoli – Google Cloud – Contract Manager – Google
Finally, the project benefits from the precious support of professors, Silvia Nutini and Davide Perrotta (Luiss Alumni) and Francesco Rossi. The Clinic adopts the new model, NegotiationSPACE, and involves 14 Luiss students seeking for new business opportunities among the participating companies. Each NegotiationSPACE is a “white space” to be processed and defined by students, a space in which students support company managers to create and define new business opportunities and potential new contracts by applying the learning by doing principle. Through firsthand experience of negotiations, developed over the entire duration of the Clinic (about 4 months), thanks to the precious participation of Danone, Google Cloud, and Lux Vide managers, Luiss students have the task, among other things, of
- study and learn as much as possible about the organization and activities of the assisted firm and the partner firm;
- define the negotiation process;
- identify the economic and commercial interests of the companies involved by “integrating” them in order to reach a new agreement;
- formalize the basic terms of the potential new agreement.
This is a complex activity that challenges the students’ interpersonal and analytical skills as well as technical knowledge, in particular, those acquired during the NegotiatingLab. Don’t wait for opportunities to present themselves, but learn how to create them through the art and science of negotiation.
“People are like bicycles. They can keep their balance only as long as they keep moving.” – Albert Einstein