Inventive Negotiation


Gets You beyond Just "Yes"

By Lynda Lawrence and William Hernández Requejo and John L. Graham

[First,watch these two videos at]


When spoken with a rising tone this simplest of sentences represents the essence of inventive negotiations in two fundamental ways. First, it recognizes that invention is a social activity involving you and me, and sometimes even Dick and Jane and Yoshi and Maria, as well. Second, this simplest of questions asks “what’s next” after an agreement and beyond that old “getting to yes.” It also avoids the creativity killing “ya, but...” It implies a long-term relationship among partners where synergy pertains. Our book (henceforward we’ll just call it Inventive Negotiation) is about a new way of thinking about human exchange, and about how to conduct inventive negotiations in all aspects of your life – personal, commercial, political, and global.

Traditionally Americans have taken a competitive, zero-sum approach to negotiations. Witness the recent deficit ceiling arguments in Washington, DC. Alternatively, all business schools teach a second, better approach: integrative bargaining, wherein negotiators exchange information about needs and preferences toward building win-win solutions. However, both approaches emphasize transactions, not long-term commercial relationships.

There is a third way that has been largely unaddressed by other authors. Inventive Negotiation combines the best practices of integrative negotiation with those of innovation processes. Here, the goals transcend mere profitable transactions and result in long-term, mutually beneficial human relationships.

Perhaps the most prominent recent example is the relationship Steve Jobs and Robert Iger built by combining the resources of Pixar and Disney. The two CEOs took to a new level of invention what had been a simple buy-sell transaction about the fees Pixar paid Disney for distributing its films. The $7.4 billion in Disney stock Jobs accepted as payment for Pixar tied him into Disney for the long run, and his creative team was kept intact and in charge, reporting to Iger. Both men attributed their invention to a combination of their good personal relationship and their exchange of “crazy ideas.”

When managers see negotiations not as mere horse-trading exercises, but as creative processes, all kinds of new means and media can be applied. For example, dedicating time to building good personal relationships becomes worthwhile. Also, off-site brainstorming sessions can be scheduled periodically. The new international diversity of management teams can be leveraged to maximize ideas and perspectives. And, third-party facilitators can synergize discussions.

Our ideas are based on three decades of research on the best practices of international negotiators, three decades of creative practice in advertising agencies, and three decades of work in international commerce. Additionally, we draw on pertinent ideas from diverse fields: open innovation, neuroscience, experimental economics, virtual teams research, and networks analysis.

In the book we weave together examples from Disney, Apple, GE, Boeing, Mitsubishi, GM, Toyota, Caterpillar, Philips, Shell, Argentine PlusPetrol, Calpine, Pacific Gas & Electric, the International Labor Organization, Ford Vietnam, and other firms large and small that all demonstrate how executives in real-world companies can and do apply principles of Inventive Negotiation in their businesses.

Inventive negotiators, especially international ones, aren’t satisfied with just making deals.  Instead, they emphasize sustainable, trusting, and personal commercial relationships that more resemble building pie factories than splitting pies: going beyond traditional, primitive approaches that divide resources toward a more civilized approach that combines them. Inventive negotiation integrates established techniques of creative brainstorming with the best practices of international negotiation yielding better outcomes and long-term relationships.

To preorder our book send your name and address to .

Reader Take Aways

The primary “take aways” of our book are three:

  1. Empowerment to use inventive negotiations – we demonstrate how this works in a variety of personal and commercial settings. The reader will come away with a clear understanding of how powerful inventive negotiations can be.
  2. The heart of the book is a list of inventive techniques that can be applied in almost all negotiation situations. We provide details about when and how to apply them.
  3. We will also provide the reader with the tools to recognize the limitations of their negotiation partners’ thinking and the means to convince them to adopt inventive negotiations. That is, we show how to transform transaction-oriented competitive or integrative bargainers into inventive negotiators that focus on long-term commercial relationships.

Methods of Invention

The heart of the book is these key methods of invention:

  1. Set a tone of invention and discuss where it fits into the process
  2. Emphasize the importance of beginning comments with “yes, AND?” rather than “ya, but…”
  3. Third party facilitators are key
  4. Leverage diversity
  5. Carefully select venues
  6. Work to create a shared vision
  7. Borrow good ideas
  8. Offer crazy ideas
  9. Sleep on it
  10. Mark momentum
  11. Share food and stories

Further Reading

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 – Project Inventive Negotiations
Make them believe they can find an inventive solution that gives everyone more than they expect. Cite examples. Discuss the obsolete practices of distributive and integrative bargaining.

Chapter 2 – Nodes
Garner a facilitator and establish the rules of engagement. The role of the facilitator (including elements of the roles of broker, liaison, translator, amicus, mediator, translator, chukai-sha in Japan, or zhongjian ren in China) is to maximize the ideas put on the table by keeping the dialogue in flow. All suggestions have some merit, even “crazy ideas.” Combining them may lead to breakthrough solutions.

Chapter 3 – Diversity
Get the right variety of people in the room. The more eclectic the views, the more chances you have to succeed. Make sure the people who could kill your ideas take part in the process so they’ll own the eventual solution.

Chapter 4 – Venue
Begin in the right place. Meet in a comfortable neutral setting, ideally with windows with verdant vistas. Eliminate physical barriers, like large tables or armchairs. The closer you are, the better your ideas will be. Think of the primordial campfire.

Chapter 5 – Shared Vision
Start by inventing a common story. If you had a perfect outcome, what would it look like? You may be surprised at how much you have in common as you begin, and the differences will reveal areas of opportunity. Then plan backward.

Chapter 6 – Borrow
Actually, beg, borrow, or steal whenever possible. Apply good solutions from other industries and other organizations to your problems.

Chapter 7 – Crazy Ideas
This is Robert Iger’s term. Break the rules. For example, try working in short bursts to eliminate inhibitions and enhance spontaneity. Pick a small topic and see how many solutions—especially crazy ones—you can discover in two minutes alone. Then work together for 10 minutes to expand the list. Thirty crazy ideas will include two that could work.

Chapter 8 – Sleep on It
Take your time. Go for a walk in the woods. The most creative solutions often come when your mind is not actively engaged in dialogue and can find new patterns. Plan for multiple sessions over time.

Chapter 9 – Mark Momentum
Celebrate wins early and often. When you acknowledge areas of agreement or work together to bridge any of your differences, you establish critical momentum and a track record of success.

Chapter 10 – Share Food and Stories throughout
Establishing trust is the key to any negotiation, and it’s easier to work with people you know and come to like. Bonding as a consequence of the process will ensure inventive negotiations lead to extraordinary long-term relationships.

About the Authors

Lynda Lawrence

Lynda Lawrence

Lynda Lawrence is Chief Idea Officer at Ideaworks Consulting, and teaches Innovation at the Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine. She has more than 30 years experience with a wide range of clients from multiple industries, government agencies and nonprofits, and has won more than 500 awards for her creativity and public service. She has a Masters in Organizational Development from the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University and is a graduate of the Executive Program in Innovation and Organizational Change from the JFK School of Government at Harvard University.




William Hernández Requejo

William Hernández Requejo

William Hernández Requejo is president and a senior consultant of Requejo Consulting, Inc., a California corporation specializing in the area of international management consulting, international business development, international negotiations and organizational development. He has worked with multinational corporations, on a wide variety of projects. William also teaches Advanced Negotiations, International Business Negotiations, International Expansion, and International Marketing at four different universities across the United States. He is co-author of Global Negotiation: The New Rules (Palgrave Macmillan 2008). He was the founding Director of the Asturias Business School in Spain.




Image of John Graham, creator of Orange Tree Partnerships

John L. Graham

John L. Graham is an author and Professor Emeritus of International Business at the University of California, Irvine . He has provided expert advice and training on international negotiations to executives groups at Fortune 500 companies for three decades. In 2009 he was selected as International Trade Educator of the Year by NASBITE International. A Berkeley PhD, Graham has published more than 60 articles in journals such as the Harvard Business Review, the Negotiation Journal, the Journal of Marketing, and Management Science. His five books (three on international negotiations) with partners have all been best sellers on their respective topics. He has also written articles for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USAToday, and his research has been the subject of articles in Smithsonian and the Chronicle of Higher Education and coverage on the NBC Nightly News and ABC Good Morning America.