#106: Deal ‘DNA’ display

These days businesses often need to negotiate deals with companies on the other side of the world.

Instant messaging can provide a limited substitute for face-to-face meetings. The absence of social cues makes it harder to exert undue pressure and may actually enable fuller and clearer discussion.

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One of the standard difficulties of negotiating is that of holding a lot of information in the minds of the parties at once. This is expecially true if they are intent upon injecting new bargaining chips during the process. Every book on negotiation technique says “get all the issues that need to be discussed written down and agreed beforehand”. Of course that never happens because the to and fro of bargaining will itself throw up new variables.

Today’s invention is a simple graphical tool which allows every active variable to be shown in realtime on a bar chart to all negotiatiors. This chart indicates the current numerical position of both sides (and could be used to show the positions of more than two negotiating parties).

This limits cognitive overload and the tendency to switch to ‘gut feel’ which often results when the details blur. When one side decides to change its position (by conceding on some things and demanding more in other areas) this can be achieved by moving sliders.

Users of the system could arrange for variables to be displayed in order of the priority which they have assigned them. A deal would be shown when the red line and the blue line become coincident.

A more advanced version of this would incorporate models of how a dealer would require his sliders to interact. The ultimate system would also model how to react in the event of various moves by the opposition.

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