Much of the material with the tag gty comes from Getting To Yes.
There are typically 4 reasons that prevent the invention of options:
- Premature judgment
- Searching for the single answer
- The assumption of a fixed pie
- Believing that “solving their problem” is their problem and not yours. (e.g. “Let them solve their own problems”)
You try to come up with options but then feel they have problems and never propose them.
Searching for the Single Answer
Also part of premature closure. You’re having a difficult enough time agreeing to one thing, you don’t want to complicate by expanding the options. You think it will promote deadlock.
Separate Inventions From Judging
Invent first, analyze and decide later.
Brainstorm, perhaps with multiple people.
- Define your purpose. What is the goal of this session?
- Utilize 5-8 people in brainstorming.
- Change the environment: Don’t use a venue where you meet often.
- Have an informal atmosphere.
- Choose a facilitator.
- Seat people side by side and not facing each other. They should feel like they’re working together.
- Clarify ground rules. Ensure a no-criticism rule. Consider a “No-blame, no credit rule”.
- Record the ideas (e.g. on a whiteboard).
- Allow some criticism and rank the ideas. Do not decide on any, and don’t throw any out.
- Invent impediments to the top ideas.
- Set up a time to evaluate ideas and decide.
Consider brainstorming with the other side. More challenging and risky (you may disclose too much, etc), but potentially more rewarding.
Broaden Your Options
The Circle Chart
Use the Circle Chart below: It will help you multiply your options by shuttling between the specific and the general.
When you get a good option on the table, it opens the door to asking about the theory that makes the option good, and then use that theory to invent more options.
Look Through the Eyes of Different Experts
Examine your problem from the perspective of different professions and disciplines to generate more options. Combine this approach with the Circle Chart.
Invent Agreements of Different Strengths
If you cannot agree on the primary issue, invent different “levels” of agreement. Examples:
- Agree on an arbiter.
- List where the two parties disagree and get agreement on that list.
The goal is to feel like you can get some agreement.
The entries in the left column are used to describe a strong agreement. Those on the right are for a weaker one. If you cannot get a strong agreement, seek options from the right column.
Change The Scope of a Proposed Agreement
If you cannot get agreement on the whole, get agreement on the parts, or at least some of them. It could be limited in geography (regional) or in time (temporary).
Then as a bonus, ask “What can we add to sweeten the deal?” and expand outwards.
Look For Mutual Gain
Always remember, while there is opportunity for a joint gain, there is also opportunity for a joint loss.
Dovetail Differing Interests
Differing interests can suggest solutions! I want to sell a house and move into an apartment. The buyer wants a house. It would be silly for me to convince him of the virtues of not having a house!
Look at this table to get an idea of common difference types:
|One Party||Other Party|
|Economic Considerations||Political Considerations|
|Internal Considerations||External Considerations|
|Symbolic Considerations||Practical Considerations|
|Immediate Future||More distant future|
|Ad Hoc Results||The Relationship|
|Political Points||Group Welfare|
Agree on an arbitrator. Or vote.
Different Values Placed on Time?
One cares about the future. The other about the present. Both discount future value at different rates. Consider an installment plan (e.g. some amount now and rest in installments).
One party believes the venture is more profitable than the other. Agree on a low amount with a bonus if it becomes high. This is like offering the real estate agent 3% if it sells up to the price he/she thinks it will, but then 20% of everything extra.
Ask For Their Preferences
Invent several options that are equally acceptable to you and ask which the other party prefers, and not just finds acceptable (they need not commit to it). Then take that option and make variants. Repeat until you cannot find more options for mutual gain.
Make Their Decision Easier
Success depends on the other party making a decision you want, so help them by making it easy for them. Step into their shoes.
You need to identify whose shoes you need to step into. Do not just pick an institution like “Chicago”, but instead pick a relevant individual like the mayor.
Do not say “Come up with something and I will tell you if I like it.” This is not making it easy for them. Keep this in mind during salary negotiations.
- What are some terms the other party would easily sign (and be of benefit to you)?
- Can you reduce the number of people whose approval is required?
- Can you formulate an agreement that will be easy for them to implement?
It is easier to refrain from doing something not being done than to stop action underway.
It is easier to cease doing something than to start something new.
Keep these in mind when putting yourself in their shoes.
Appeal to being fair/legal/honorable if possible.
Always try to find precedent. Did they do something similar in the past that you can invoke and/or draw analogies from?
Making Threats Is Not Enough
Putting yourself in their shoes, what would you fear most from the decision? What would you hope for?
Threats are probably less effective than opportunities.
Emphasize the benefits they will see.
Would they like credit for the action? Would they like to be the one announcing it? Invent low cost things that they will value highly.
Consider how they will be criticized for the decision you want them to take. Write down a few sentences of how it would be criticized. Then write down the defense.
Write everything in the form of a “yessable” proposition. Draft a proposal where a single “Yes” response would be sufficient yet realistic.