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Brexit - What Is The Biggest Weakness In The UK Approach?

Posted: Friday, 4 January 2019 @ 13:43

With the triggering of Article 50 by the UK Government, the phoney war is over and now the real negotiations are starting. Whilst there has been much talk in negotiating strategy and a comparison of the respective line ups for each side, it is worth considering what are the variables which will make for a successful negotiation.

I mediate, run not uncomplicated cases and help parties negotiate. In this situation success revolves around effective preparation, the ability to aim high, understand each other position, organise resources, have sound knowledge and research carefully your walk away point. (In mediation terms this is known as Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement  (BATNA). 

Nonetheless despite the importance of all these variables it is probably not the most important factor which will determine the success or not of the United Kingdom in its negotiation with the EU.

The sheer complexity of the negotiation means that the organisation of the team of negotiators is pivotal.

Thus UK Head Negotiator, David Davis, may want to consider a passage in Stephen Covey's 7 Habits on the importance of synergy and the importance of open communication and learn a lesson from another complex past negotiation and the importance of the  habit of creative co-operation.

For the record, this habit of creative communication will apply just as much as with the UK internal team but also externally in negotiations with the EU teams.

As Covey writes "After World War II, the United States commissioned David Lilienthal to head the new Atomic Energy Commission. Lilienthal brought together a group of people who were highly influential -celebrities in their own right -- disciples, as it were, of their own frames of reference.  This very diverse group of individuals had an extremely heavy agenda, and they were impatient to get at it. In addition, the press was pushing them.  But Lilienthal took several weeks to create a high Emotional Bank Account. He had these people get to know each other -- their interests, their hopes, their goals, their concerns, their backgrounds, their frames of reference, their paradigms. He facilitated the kind of human interaction that creates a great bonding between people, and he was heavily criticized for taking the time to do it because it wasn't "efficient."   But the net result was that this group became closely knit together, very open with each other, very creative, and synergistic."

Now in my experience team building etc gets a bad press and it may already be too late for the British but if they do really want to help their country they really should get on with managing the team effectively and building an effective culture.