Professional fishers use braided line...
I borrowed a friend’s fishing rod recently and noticed that they used braided line (2 lines wound together). In my experience most people use a single line. Intrigued, I looked up the advantages of braiding. It is both thinner and heavier, easier to cast and faster to sink to where the fish are. It is also stronger. You pay a premium for these advantages.
In negotiation, linking theory with practice provides the same benefits that braided line does for fishers. Some providers give tactics and tips without a coherent underlying theory. Much of this advice is situation specific without the advantage of general application across a broader range of conflicts. While theory alone may be useful to predict future behaviours, it is not until it survives the practical test that it proves its utility.
Scotwork is based on the work of Professor Gavin Kennedy. His research describes a process which is universal and easily understood. The skills associated with each of the steps in the process provide a basis for securing agreements between parties in conflict. The purpose of a theory is to provide a framework to explain or predict certain phenomena. Understanding that there is a negotiating process that needs to be followed allows our participants to understand the practical behaviours they will need to adopt to enable them to control the process and reach a workable agreement.
By adopting ‘mutual gains’ as a philosophy that guides our negotiation behaviour, the Scotwork process model allows negotiators to develop a set of negotiating principles to enhance the benefits available to both parties in a negotiation. The concepts of establishing guiding principles, developing techniques to add value, and enhancing relationships through gain sharing are applications of this underlying philosophy.
As a result of the extensive consulting work we have undertaken in Australia, the theory and practice have become interwoven. The application of the skills and the use of the process to manage real negotiations both reinforces and validates the theory and extends the skills available to practitioners. This proof of concept provides more empirical evidence of the validity of both the underlying process and the skills developed. Like the braided line, we are stronger and more effective than traditional approaches.
When asked to compare our approach to that of the internet gurus we need to emphasise that we do not rely on “rockstars” (with exceptions) rather a proven theory, a set of skills that can be learned and a compelling, enduring philosophy that works across a diverse range of transactions and relationships.