Negotiation for Purchasing Professionals – our book review (part 3)

Negotiation for Purchasing Professionals  - ★★★★

We really enjoyed the comments around part 2 of our book review last week, so thanks for everyone who took the time to add their views. We may come back to the whole NLP / body language issue at a later date if we feel like stirring up more controversy...!

Anyway, Negotiation for Purchasing Professionals  is the new book from Jonathan O’Brien of Positive Purchasing. Our overall review is very positive, and we gave an overview in part 1 before criticising some of that material on body language and the like in part 2. But I didn’t want to finish on a negative note, so here are some of the many highlights of the book.

1. I really like the way negotiation is linked in to the wider procurement process. Too often negotiation is seen as some stand alone process, yet for most of us it will feature as part of a Category Management process, or in a re-negotiation with a current supplier – so as an intrinsic part of a wider process. This book is one of the first I’ve seen to emphasise this.

2. The Red Sheet® methodology is a Positive Purchasing designed process for planning and executing negotiations and it looks very sensible and useful. It follows a STEP process - Situation, Target, Event, Post-event and I have no doubt that the vast majority of organisations would get better negotiation results if they followed the methodology outlined here.

3. I enjoyed the discussion around Game Theory. It’s a complex but fascinating topic, with serious academic interest from mathematicians, economists and psychologists, and O’Brien relates it well to negotiation, even building in some thinking about how various ideas might work in different cultural situations.

4. The chapter on “Power” is excellent (although I was surprised that the work of Prof. Andrew Cox on power in the supply chain wasn’t quoted). There is a good discussion of the BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement), the types of power, how to develop more power and other aspects of this key issue. I shall re-read this chapter many times, I suspect!

5. The overall layout and design of the book is excellent. The use of tables, charts, worksheets, bullet points and other design features is exemplary and makes a book that is pretty dense in terms of the material covered (that’s a compliment, by the way) very readable.

So, not withstanding my caveats about the sections on body language and personality, this is highly recommended.  It will sit alongside Fisher and Ury and Gates on my list of favourite negotiation books, and as one that is aimed squarely at the procurement community, I suspect it will become a classic of our profession for many years to some.

Just be careful in negotiations when it comes to looking at people’s eyes, feet, or (particularly) chests!

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