Design Thinking in the Field: Learnings From In Extremis Negotiators

In today's tough business climate, negotiations can often be stressful. As today's design and business challenges become more interconnected, the number of stakeholders and the complexity involved in leading towards the right solutions is increasing. And the time in which to do so is often short. That said, it is nothing like was U.S. military officers are facing daily in Afghanistan and other regions of conflict across the globe.

A recent Harvard Business Review article entitled "Extreme Negotiations"highlights some important learnings from the field, outlining 5 major learnings that can serve those operating in business contexts just as well as officers. U.S. military officers in Afghanistan often are balancing making progress and proper decisions while maintaining a stance of strength. Over the past six years or so, HBR studied how they resolve conflict and influence others in situations where the levels of risk and uncertainty are extreme.

They discovered that the most skilled among them rely on five highly effective strategies...all of which, as it turns out, are grounded in solid design thinking.

1. Understand the big picture.

2. Uncover hidden agendas and collaborate with the other side.

3. Get genuine buy-in.

4. Build relationships that are based on trust rather than fear.

5. Pay attention to process as well as desired outcomes.

These strategies, used in combination, are characteristic of effective in extremis negotiators, to adapt a term from Colonel Thomas Kolditz, a professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the author of In Extremis Leadership.

- Photo credit: The Washington Post