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Reader’s Review, October 2013

By John D. Baker

SMARTnership: The Third Road – Optimizing Negotiation Options

By Keld Jensen
148pp. Boston, MA: Acanthus Publishing, 2012
Hardcover (USA) $14.95

Keld Jensen brings over twenty-five years of experience in business management, teaching and consulting to the writing of SMARTnership. Mr. Jensen is a prolific author who has published 20 books in over 28 countries. Additionally, he is the author of many feature articles for publications such as Fortune magazine, a broadcast commentator and a popular conference speaker.

Mr. Jensen is the former Chairman of the Centre for Negotiation at the Copenhagen Business School in his native Denmark where he continues to serve as a Lecturer; an Associate Professor at the Baltic Management Institute (Lithuania); and an adjunct professor at the Thunderbird School of Global Management (USA). He is also the founder and CEO of the Center for Negotiation Ltd, an international consulting and training firm. Unquestionably, Keld Jensen is a widely-known and broadly talented person.

SMARTnership is a surprisingly little volume of less than 150 pages with big messages for all negotiators. This audience would include almost everyone, according to Keld Jensen’s research that found that over the course of a year, the average individual participates in some 8,000 – 10,000 negotiations and uses some 80 percent of their communication activity as a part of some form of negotiation (page 1).

Jensen’s book begins with an examination of three primary negotiating styles that individuals rely upon in their negotiations. The author presents what he calls the combative style of negotiation which assumes negotiations are a zero-sum enterprise and rests upon such old devices as “assertions, demands, and threats” to defeat one’s opponent (page 11); explores the cooperative negotiation style; and then focuses on his preferred negotiating style which he calls SMARTnership. For Jensen, SMARTnership is a style of negotiation that is more open, more cooperative, more transparent, and more trust-based than traditional cooperative negotiation. It is only through both parties working together as a team that the real potential of a negotiation can be achieved is the message. Overall, Jensen asserts, research shows that two-thirds of all negotiations fail to reach their real potentials (pp 61-62). It is only in Win-Win negotiation with both parties relying upon mutual trust that real added value is created (p 127). The reward for open and trust-based negotiation is the capability to capture over 40 percent of value from the process (p 127). Readers will have much to ponder and much to try as they explore the SMARTnership alternative.

Lastly, readers will find the final pages of this book a call to action for organizational management. Jensen turns from matters of individual negotiating style to the matter of organizational negotiating style and direction as he closes his work. Here, in his last few pages, he is extraordinary in his clear and accurate view of organizational issues around negotiation today. Moreover, this reviewer is convinced he is right on target.

“The absence of a negotiation strategy is an organizational disaster,” Jensen asserts, and then proceeds to document why this is so (p 146). If you have ever dealt with an organization without an institutional negotiation style, you know from experience the problem inherent in an approach in which every contract provision is new, every proposed term requires re-invention , and every negotiator has a free-style approach. As a participant or as an organizational manager, you know that you can only begin to estimate the lost opportunity costs, the resource waste, and the impact of the blurred organizational image that result from the undefined ad hoc process.

Jensen provides his reader with both a negotiating style, a rational for its excellence and a careful selection of techniques to implement it; a case for the critical importance of an organizational style; and lastly, a brief blueprint for implementing it. One rarely finds a work that covers so much essential ground and does so with such skill. This is a book about building value, strengthening performance and winning competitive advantage. It truly is a must-read.

Highly Recommended.

John D. Baker, Ph.D.

As a service to our readers, you may order this month’s Reader’s Review selection by clicking on the appropriate icon below. Please note SMARTnership is currently available only in the Kindle electronic edition at Amazon at the time of this review


The Negotiator Magazine  October 2013 Copyright © 2013 The Negotiator Magazine