Getting to yes – negotiation strategy and public affairs

Keene has recently been intimately involved in the negotiation of two major pieces of international climate change law. Both – the first a treaty and the second a piece of EU legislation – show the power of good negotiators. With the stakes high and the tensions running even higher it seems at times that agreement is impossible.

As part of our preparation we turned to various books on strategy and found they came up short. Most assumed a zero-sum game. The problem is that climate change is so critical an issue that parties must reach an agreement that benefits all.

So instead we turned to Fisher and Ury’s famous Getting to Yes – Negotiating Agreement without giving in. It was recommended to me by a now deceased former diplomat who was involved in negotiations from the Good Friday Accord to the release of Nelson Mandela.

Fisher and Ury were part of the Harvard Negotiation Project. Famously their book gives three key maxims:

  • Separate the people from the problem;
  • Focus on interests not positions; and
  • Work together to create options that will satisfy both parties.

The difficulty is in identifying others’ interests. This drives at the heart of Keene’s mission. Many people think that public affairs practitioners (or lobbyists as we’re sometimes called – normally in a pejorative tone) help their clients “win” by making others lose.

At Keene we help clients to win, not through barracking, pressure or bully boy tactics but through helping them engage in a successful negotiation. The issue for businesses is where that negotiation involves many many partners the problems can seem insurmountable.

We’ve found that once these partners begin talking to each other and not past each other that these problems can be overcome. Despite positions which initially seem unmoveable.

For more information about Keene’s public affairs services please contact Jake Rigg on 020 7839 2140 or on jake@keenecomms.com.

Jake Rigg

Jake Rigg

Jake is the Managing Director at Keene Communications, specialising in government relations activities on financial services, tax and competition in the UK and the EU. He also specialises in planning and stakeholder engagement.

He was formerly Head of Policy at the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). With degrees in history and economics from the Universities of Oxford and London, Jake is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a trustee of the European Association of Philanthropy and Giving and advises several governments on public policy. He also advises clients on CSR and philanthropy activities.
Jake Rigg

About the Author

Jake is the Managing Director at Keene Communications, specialising in government relations activities on financial services, tax and competition in the UK and the EU. He also specialises in planning and stakeholder engagement. He was formerly Head of Policy at the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). With degrees in history and economics from the Universities of Oxford and London, Jake is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a trustee of the European Association of Philanthropy and Giving and advises several governments on public policy. He also advises clients on CSR and philanthropy activities.