With the increased emphasis on collaboration rather than competition in the NHS, Tamara Hodgson offers practical advice on how to achieve win-win results for all parties
The concept of collaboration, and specifically collaborative commissioning, is not necessarily a new one in the world of specialised commissioning; but when I speak to professionals who work in this area today, they tell me that it’s turned into something of a buzz word or ‘hot topic’. It seems that there is a growing awareness that in some negotiation scenarios, being more collaborative makes good sense, without it necessarily being clear why or how.
What is collaborative negotiation?
Within my world of negotiation, collaboration has a very specific definition and meaning. Collaborative negotiation refers to the potential for all parties’ interests to be combined in ways that create joint value—or to put it another way, enlarge the pie. When you put it like that, the ‘why’ starts to become clearer.
With lots published information available on collaborative commissioning, let’s take a closer look at what it means and how we can decide between a collaborative or competitive strategy for negotiation planning, preparation, and execution. The Gap Partnership works with organisations across the globe to support them with their negotiation strategy. One of the key tools that we use is a six-stage strategic process. In this model, the emphasis is very much that the starting point in the process is understanding the endpoint. In the words of Canadian sociologist Laurence J Peter, ‘If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.’
At this point, it is worth defining what we mean by a collaborative negotiation strategy: ‘a conscious decision to pursue a joint agenda, focusing on a win-win approach or value creation.’ Equally, we need to define what we mean by a competitive negotiation strategy. A competitive negotiation strategy is ‘a conscious decision to pursue a self-interest agenda, focusing on a win-lose approach or value distribution.’