Integrative Negotiation as Part of a Business Continuity Plan

Business continuity is not always the easiest thing to put in place. Budget that gets allocated to BC is budget that does not get allocated to other projects or departments, and then there are also organisational turf wars to consider. If you’re faced with a manager intent on protecting his or her fiefdom, a slide into “I win, you lose” thinking can happen all too quickly. “Win-win” or integrative negotiation is a constructive approach, making the whole deal positive for all involved. A business continuity plan might well include an indication of how BC can be put across to important players as being good for them as well as for the business.

Integrative negotiation, “win-win”, “making the pie bigger” or similar all depend on openness and sincerity when dealing with others in an organisation. If trust is established, then such negotiation can use a number of different tactics to reach a mutually beneficial conclusion. These include understanding the underlying needs of the other party, being able to suggest alternative solutions, and even, if appropriate, redefining the problem – for example, turning a perceived threat from a business continuity plan to status or autonomy into a possibility to derive business benefit.

Is “win-win” systematically the way to go? Sometimes “win-lose” (distributive negotiation) is all that’s available, because it really is a matter of budget allocation and someone is going to have to cut down or cancel a project or an activity. However, there is usually a chance that you will have to deal with the same people again, for example for implementing next year’s business continuity plan. Managers who feel that they were “stitched up” with a poor deal this year are unlikely to welcome you with open arms next time round. Yet the reverse is true as well, hence a preference for integrative negotiation where possible.