The Negotiator Magazine

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Reader's Review

John Baker

Shaping the Game: The New Leader’s Guide to Effective Negotiating
By Michael Watkins
196pp. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2006
Hardcover Edition (US) $26.95

Dr. Michael D. Watkins is a Professor of Practice in Organizational Behavior at INSEAD, one of the world’s leading graduate business schools, located at Fontainebleau, France and in Singapore.  Professor Watkins is a native of Canada and holds a degree from the University of Waterloo (Canada) as well as a PhD in Decision Sciences from Harvard University. 

Dr. Watkins has served as a professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the Harvard Business School, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and now at INSEAD.   Readers may know him as the award-winning author or co-author of a wide variety of business books.  Among his works are The First 90 Days; Predictable Surprises; Breakthrough Business Negotiation; and Breakthrough International Negotiation.  He is an expert in leadership and negotiation as well as the founding partner of Genesis Advisers, a leadership strategy consultancy.

“The basic theme of this book, then,” Watkins informs his reader in the introduction to Shaping the Game, “is that effective leaders negotiate their way to success in their new roles.   Because,” he adds, “if you can’t engage in effective negotiation … the best analysis and planning isn’t going to take you anywhere” (p.3).

Watkins leads his reader quickly into recognizing the essential goals and traps the transitional leader needs to manage to demonstrate competencies and build the relationships vital to effectively evolving into their new roll.  Then, the author moves into the core of his book, “the strategies and tools” needed to “excel in negotiating your new role” (p.12).  What results is a thoughtful negotiation tutorial that will be valuable both for the new leader as well as all other negotiators.

Let us look briefly at a few of the topics you will discover in this work.  Watkins cites “the most common mistake … ineffective negotiators make is to adopt one-size-fits all approaches” (p15).  Certainly, he is correct.  If the reader learns nothing more out of this work they will have greatly benefited from this insight

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July 2006