[Solved] the player

“The Player” was a negotiation between the newly appointed Vice-President of National Artists Productions (NA) and a successful Hollywood director. This negotiation could have resulted in the first major motion picture deal that the producer would have worked on after his promotion to VP. In this negotiation I played the role of the Vice-President. My goal was to reach what I felt was the most satisfactory agreement possible with the Director. There were 11 issues to negotiate, and each had points associated with them to show the importance of each issue.

The 11 issues included the following: director’s base salary, pre-production budget, post production schedule, director’s bonus percentage, child star, male and female lead, location, personal budget, production designer, and editorial control. Planning My first planning step, with “The Player” negotiation, was to set a goal and a desired outcome for the negotiation. I assessed the importance of both the substantive and relational outcome. I realized that I wanted this to be a win-win situation.

The importance of staying in budget with the film was just as important as the continuing relationship that I would have with the director; thus, I was aiming for the overall negotiation to be collaborative. My goal in the negotiation was to come to an agreement on all 11 issues described above, within my resistance point of 4,000 points. My next planning step was to gather the facts. I created an excel file (see below) to help me have a quick point of reference during the negotiation process. I color coded my target choices with yellow and my resistance point with red.

The spreadsheet helped me analyze where I stood on my overall negotiation outcome in real time. My resistance point (total points) was 4,000. Creating the excel file helped me with the negotiation, by assisting with the changing values when multiple issues were being negotiated. I also identified which issues were most important. I came up with my priorities based on their point values. I coupled my fact finding with assessing the possible best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) for both parties.

The BATNA’s for the Vice-President were the following: go with another director, not produce the movie, or wait and see how well the director’s next movie did and adjust our budget accordingly. The BATNA’s for the director were: to produce another movie, not produce a movie, or produce something other than movies (i. e. music video). My assessment of both BATNA’s suggested that it was in the best interest of both parties to come to an agreement. My final step in my planning was to come up with my negotiation strategy. My strategy was to negotiate the issues that were least important to me at the beginning.

I wanted to do this to show the director I was willing to compromise and share information. I wanted to build trust, so when it came time to negotiate the issues that were top priority on my list, the director would be willing to compromise with me. I also mentally prepared to not fall into the anchoring trap. I wanted to learn from previous mistakes, and be prepared to act. After I had set a goal, gathered facts and set a negotiation strategy I felt prepared to enter the negotiation. (My Excel planning file) Analysis of Negotiation I began the negotiation by asking the Director, “What does your vision of this film look like? I let the director talk about his recommendations for leads, locations, and personal budget. This approach created an environment of free flowing information and helped identify the issues where our proposed offer was the same. We started negotiating the lead roles, and were able to come to an agreement on all three leads relatively quickly. We were able to identify the common stance on the child star and the producer immediately because of the free flow of information in our negotiation. I noted that I had compromised on the female lead, but felt that it would pay off in the end.

We proceeded to the issues of location and personal budget. I felt that we could logroll with these two issues and come to a compromise by trading off the desire for many locations with a low personal budget or visa-versa. However, I again noted that I ended up compromising on both issues. On the location we agreed on 2 locations, this was my resistance point. On the personal budget we agreed on $650, which was beyond my resistance point. Again, I communicated my willingness to compromise. I wanted to make a good film and was willing to collaborate with the director to produce a quality film within budget.

My hope was that he would see that I was “willing to scratch his back” and that he would reciprocate down the road. The next three issues we negotiated were editorial control, preproduction budget, and post production schedule. Again we logrolled with the issues and came to an agreeable decision. The outcome of the negotiation of this particular bundle was evenly distributed. I felt that the director was willing to collaborate with me on these issues. I wanted the entire negotiation to follow the concept of the integrative negotiation process by setting the tone of the negotiation as a win-win.

Reflecting on how the negotiation was going to this point I felt that I may have conceded on more of the issues than the director, but the hope was that the director would concede on the issues that were important to me. I felt I was sensitive to the director’s needs, and was more willing to compromise on issues important to him, than he was too me. Based on the assumption that “he owed me” I was confident that we would agree on the last two issues and reach a deal. The two big issues that we saved for the end of the negotiation were the director’s base salary and the director’s bonus percentage.

The decision to save them until the end, I believe, sealed the fate of our negotiation. These two issues became win-loss issues and the negotiation became a distributive bargaining negotiation quickly. With the mindset that I had compromised on several issues earlier in the negotiation, and that I would be able to get some compromise from the director on the last two issues set me up for disappointment. The expectation that I was entitled or that it was my turn to get my way on these issues created an unrealistic expectation. This expectation played a roll in the demise of our trust and ultimately the negotiation.

The fact that the director started with highball offers on both issues did not help the trust that was built earlier in the negotiation. During this stage I did stand strong, and was impressed that I did not succumb to the anchoring effect of the director’s highball offers. When I asked the director what he was looking for as far as compensation (base & bonus) the director came back with $800,000 for base salary and a 12% bonus. I felt that we had built a relationship of trust, and that I had collaborated on many of the issues. I took his opening offer as offensive, as both of these numbers were the high end of the scale.

I was battling frustration and the mental game of not falling to anchoring. Before I proceeded I took a deep breath. This may have come across as flinching, but it was strictly for me. Instead of countering his offer, I asked a few clarifying questions. I asked why he wanted to be compensated double the amount of his last film, and why he needed such high compensation. The director explained that he “deserved it. ” I explained that we would need to revisit many of the other issues to make room in the budget to even get close to that amount.

I was conscious of the anchoring that could happen with the highball offers, and ultimately explained that the 12% bonus was not possible. I communicated my willingness to work with the base salary, but that the bonus could not be more than 2% in order to come to an agreement. It was hard to keep my emotions out of the negotiation because of my earlier compromises and sense of entitlement to some concession on the last two issues. But I was able to remain calm, and explain that we were simply way too far apart for this deal to work.

The final outcome was a No Deal. We were still trying to negotiate the director’s base salary and the bonus percentage when the negotiation had to end. We were attempting to go over all the issues again trying to bundle different scenarios to secure an agreement. It was tough to try and renegotiate the other issues because I had compromised on many of them. My goal was to get 4000 points and when time ran out I was at 2,550 points. This point total was calculated with my counter offer to give the director the $800,000 base salary for a 7% bonus.

I explained that we would need to negotiate other issues in addition to this offer, but the director did not accept the offer. To be honest, more time would not have helped our negotiation. The director was not willing to compromise on the salary or the bonus unless I would accommodate to his request on other issues. Self-Reflection What surprised me about my behaviour in this negotiation was my ability to stay calm. I was also impressed with my ability to stay grounded and not sway toward the highball offers. I was conscious to not fall for the anchoring strategy.

However, I did notice that my body started to get warm, and I noticed the feeling of frustration as we got to the last two issues to negotiate. I was also surprised by his lack of negotiation in the last two categories. I thought this was an obvious collaborative effort and that it would be in both parties’ self interest to have a win-win situation. I was surprised that he held so strongly to the high end of the range and that he was not willing to move towards a compromise that would be doable for both parties and produce a win-win situation.

I learned that there is still a lot to learn when it comes to my negotiation strategies. The fact that our outcome did not result in a deal felt like a failure to me. I want to be able to take the lead in every negotiation, set the tone, and see the negotiation all the way through. This doesn’t mean that I want to always “win. ” However, I think the outcome could have been different if I had taken control earlier and communicated even better. I learned how important the planning process is in negotiation, but to always be ready for unexpected changes.

I felt prepared for this negotiation and had a solid plan coming into the negotiation. I identified goals, facts and set a negotiation strategy. I felt this was going to be a successful negotiation. I learned that even two mutually invested parties can get hung up on tougher issues and turn an integrative negotiation into a distributive one. I would re-do this negotiation in one of two ways. The first way that I can see this negotiation going better would be to lay out all of my cards from the beginning. I feel that if I had communicated my goals to him from the beginning that possibly could have helped.

I should have been open with him in my goal to have a win-win outcome. I should have said, “I really want to produce a doable outcome that we can both manage, and I want to leave here with a solid working relationship to help us move forward. ” Then I should have communicated my 100% ideal choice with every issue, therefore he would become aware of how much I was compromising with each issue, therefore when we got to the tough issues there would have been a clear picture of all the compromising that had taken place. Hopefully this would have led to him being more flexible during the last two issues.

During our negotiation we weren’t open with each other quickly enough. It would have also been advantageous to have open communication and dialogue after every issue was decided upon. My second way of redoing this negotiation would have been to be firm, strict and a hard-nosed negotiator from the beginning. I wouldn’t not collaborate, but I would show him, from the get-go, that I was serious with my intentions and I knew exactly what I expected out of every issue. Part of me wonders if my “collaborative-compromising” tone gave the wrong impression.

I thought I would do well with an “I scratch your back and you scratch mine” mentality, where in the end he may have just viewed me as being soft. What I saw as building a relationship of trust, he may have seen as softness and as a way to walk all over me. He may, in fact, have been confused as to why I was so firm with my inability to give into him on the last two issues. Therefore, I can see the advantages of coming in strong. I could set the tone from the beginning that I mean business, I know my expectations and limits and there’s not a lot of wiggle room in those things.

Conclusion In conclusion, I was able to take away many important learning opportunities from this negotiation. I experienced first-hand just how beneficial planning is to the negotiation process. I negotiated and unfortunately did not have a successful outcome. I then analyzed the process and was able to discern ways that may improve the process for next time. Overall, I believe that with upfront, open communication from the beginning that we may have been successful in this negotiation.

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