Bite-size Case Study

Finding sweet spot solutions

Published on March 30, 2022 Originally recorded 2021   3 min
What is the sweet spot? The inspiration for my book, "Negotiating the Sweet Spot: The Art of Leaving Nothing on the Table", came from a story that I read when I first started doing research on negotiation. That story, attributed to business scholar Mary Parker Follett, involves two sisters quarreling over a single orange. I could not find clip art of two sisters. Let's imagine that these are two brothers, maybe the 'Property Brothers' we see on American TV. They have a long term relationship, they're in business together, and hopefully they're imagining a long future together. But the problem is there's only a single orange. One of the brothers threatens the other,' saying, "Look, it's my turn to get the orange. The other brother says, "Not so fast, I demand to have it." Finally, they decide that they're going to cut the orange exactly in half, because that seems fair. It seems like a reasonable compromise. One brother squeezes out the juice and throws the peel away. The other brother takes his half of the orange and carefully zests the peel to make his orange scone recipes for the open house, and throws the juice away. Then the garbage truck comes and goes. Then they look at each other aghast, because it's only then did they realize that one of them only wanted the juice. The other only wanted the peel, and they missed the sweet spot. Had they carefully remove the peel from the orange, rather than cutting it in half, they would have both been wildly happier. That's a silly story, but I argue that in workplace and business negotiations, we often do exactly like the 'Property Brothers' did. We cut the orange in half, rather than doing what it takes to find the sweet spot solution. You know, a lot of my managers, clients and business people find the siblings in the orange story very cute, very memorable, but they don't see a connection to real business negotiations. Let me give you one. In this situation,