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Published: Jun 09 , 2016
Author: Alan Smith

Been a very bad year for my heroes so far. The loss of David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Fry, Victoria Wood and now the sporting legend that was Muhammad Ali. Tragic. If you have not read the Fight by Norman Mailer, you should. The description of the legendary fight between Ali and George Foreman has to be one of the best books ever written about sport. Even for a non-fight-lover it is a brutal study of the pugilist’s skill. Mailer describes the dynamics of the battle in graphic detail comparing it to a chess match and to a piece of art.

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Negotiators don’t necessarily derive their power from the relative size of their organisations. In fact, many negotiators fall into the trap of being scared by a seemingly “bigger” opponent on the other side and end up striking deals that belie their significance to the other side. As I have written before, these deals can be commercially ruinous. In fact, they derive their power from the incentives and sanctions that they have at their disposal. The problem that negotiators face when deploying their power, exerting their leverage as I once heard it described, is that some incentives seem relatively indivisible. They have one enormous “chunk” of a concession and then it’s over to threats and counter-threats – never a place where nice people like to be!

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