Politics Aside, Nine Lessons About Negotiations from Brexit

Posted by Dave Varney on Jan 23, 2019 6:15:59 PM


Though it may be difficult to do, leaving politics aside for a moment, you may find that current world events offer useful insights that have relevance and application to your work. 

Here are nine observations from the challenges faced by the parties involved in the Brexit negotiations. 

Before Negotiations: 

Lesson 1 – Laying the Foundation for Consensus and Sign-off: Ensure the deal team have a clear and agreed mandate on behalf of their organisations.  Agree on the critical stakeholders related to the negotiations, it’s governance, authority levels and path to sign-off beforehand. 

Lesson 2 – Establishing a Connection: Successful negotiations are born from relationships. Build rapport before negotiations begin and get both deal teams to agree and commit to the timeline and to stay from start to finish.

Lesson 3 – You Cannot Be Too Prepared: Preparation is essential to reach an outcome amenable to both parties. This means knowing yourself and your opposite number. Define what success looks like and your acceptance criteria. Create your negotiating strategy and a timebound milestone plan and know the details of the likely scenarios.  Understand where you can be flexible, and compromises can be made to avoid divergent positions being taken or unworkable solutions being tabled.  When it comes to "red lines", knowing your negotiating partner’s likely walkaway position and ensuring your walkaway position is not lose-lose or lose-win will help avoid triggering events helpful to neither party. 

During Negotiations: Lessons 4 – 6

Lesson 4 - Don’t Skip Lesson 3: Don't start negotiations until you've achieved Lessons 1 and 3, and then make sure you hit agreed milestones on the timeline. Nobody likes to work through the holidays, so put the extra hours in early in the process. There are times when an aggressive timeline can drive results, but many personality types require reflection and consideration before making significant decisions. 

Lesson 5 - Don’t Disrupt Team Composition Unless…: Don't change the composition of your team unless your strategy is to unsettle your negotiating partner or unless specialist skills that match how the game is unfolding are needed. See as reference Lessons 2 and 3.

Lesson 6 - Assess the Progress Often: It is essential to make an honest, critical and regular assessment of progress towards your goals and those of your negotiating partner. Regularly assess what has been agreed by both sides and what is remaining. Are there any show-stoppers for either party? Are negotiations finished? Be clear about next steps to signature to avoid surprises. 

After Negotiations – Lessons 7 – 9

Lesson 7 - Refer to Lesson 1 in order to assess that these elements have been satisfied.

Lesson 8 - Refer to lesson 6 to determine if negotiations are over or actually still open: If there are still things to negotiate rather than clarify, return to Lesson 2 as both teams need to come back to the table. Do not announce successful closure until negotiated terms have been challenged for risks and other issues as well as evaluated against acceptance criteria by both signatories and critical stakeholders. If so, most importantly, sign the document!

Lesson 9 - Evaluate your negotiation and learn from the previous eight lessons: what would have made your performance Even Better If? (EBI). 

The Bottom Line: Finally, perhaps, look at another world event through a business-learning lens and let us know what lessons you find!


Notes about SRM Europe

Strategic Resource Management (SRM), Europe, is a subsidiary of SRM Inc. SRM provides its clients with expertise in cost reduction, increasing revenue, organisation re-design, process re-engineering, programme management, wider transformation and the latest in AI and robotics technology support. To learn more, visit www.srmeurope.com