Innovation is a form of win-win negotiation
Almost three decades ago, Ury and Fisher published their ground-breaking negotiation method, Getting to Yes that laid the foundation of win-win negotiation. Reflecting back on my early years in B2B Account Management and my current activities in Technology, I was struck by the parallels between win-win negotiation and innovation.
Negotiators look for the fundamental interests underneath the positions. For instance, during the Egypt-Israel Camp David talks in 1978 negotiators established that Israel’s fundamental interest was to have their security guaranted; keeping the Sinai as a buffer zone was merely a position, a mean -amongst others, even if it was the only one initially on the table – to satisfy their need.
Likewise, innovators look for the fundamental customer needs that hide behind the clutter of habitual product features. When a University takes the innovative step of letting students download podcasts of lectures, it brushes aside hand-out, note-taking, and whatever marginal improvements could be added to these traditional techniques, and instead focuses on the fundamental student’s need for repetition.
Reverse innovation is a case in point. When Tata develops the Nano low-cost city car, it gets right to the heart of the customer’s need, which is not about dashboard widgets or turbo-charged engine, but about mobility. And in doing so, they negotiate a win-win business proposition.