3Congratulations, You Reached Agreement. Now Can You Make It Better?

Contributed by Joshua N. Weiss

Professor Howard Raiffa of Harvard Business School developed an innovative concept called Post Settlement Settlement.1 While it seems like a bit of an odd name, the idea is brilliant and rather simple. After the parties to a negotiation reach an agreement, they normally progress to the implementation phase as the next step in the process and move quickly toward putting the agreement into practice. Raiffa, however, suggests that the parties pause and consider another step before rushing off to implement the agreement.

The additional Post Settlement Settlement step Raiffa advocates for hinges on the parties asking each other a simple question: “Is there any way that we can make this agreement better for both of us?”2 Somewhat surprisingly, when negotiators take the time to revisit their agreements in the way Raiffa counsels, they often uncover assumptions they made and other areas of interests that were left unexplored. This new information leads to additional places of value that were left out of the original agreement and an expanding of the pie. As a result, both sides gain even more than the already acceptable initial agreement they came up with together. Let's see how this concept works in practice.

Background and the Negotiation Challenge

A number of years ago I was working with a recycling company called Blue Planet Recycling (BPR), which was based in the midwestern part ...

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