For the past three weeks I have been assisting a colleague with the delivery of a course in Negotiation, (which really could be called Negotiation and Influence). One of the realities is that the two aspects (Negotiation and Influence) are normal functions that we engage in everyday, sometimes in a single transaction, or often in an ongoing agreement/contract.
This seems to be a particularly good time to evaluate the elements of negotiations as we have the dance of the USA/North Korea; the possible re-thinking of Brexit (and perhaps another referendum now that the implications are better known), the Israeli/Palestinian/United Nations discussions on the use of force; and many other international negotiations inclusive of oil prices. This augurs well for a keen look at the subjects by our students — a theoretical win-win.
Regionally, the same opportunities occur with the total sweep in the Barbadian elections, the ongoing saga of Venezuela, and the need for coalitions in Central America. The seeming scale of total wins versus coalition requirements present rare live and direct opportunities for observing the inner workings of politics where possible monopolists can be observed on one hand, even as “strange bedfellows” attempt consensual consummation.
Not to be in any way outdone, here in Jamaica there is a similar situation underway as our two major political parties seek to make changes in their constituency representatives, some as new challengers step forward, while others leave at the end of long terms of service and advancing age.
The complexities of positions being publicly discussed range from length of service; “royal decree”; place of residence; post, major career occupation; and a range of emotive elements that cloud the real need for good governance. So with the assistance of an ever-willing and cynical media, succession planning is again exposed as the same old cloak nepotism clouded in the garbs of democracy.
This is nothing new, as from my early recollection the circumstances of resistance to political personnel changes date back to the expulsion of the 3 H’s; the “death while sleepwalking”, “gang of five”, “Western 11”, and the NDM; challenges for leadership; election of leaders versus appointment; singing of sankey and candle-lighting ceremonies; and many other minor and also horrific internal skirmishes.
So what is it that attracts seemingly good, sometimes brilliant, and mainly honest persons to leave the professions through which they have supported their families over the years, take the leap into the known murky waters that are in no way transparent and in many ways corrupt? The background to the case in point is a history of an arcane ability to transform gold into the dross metal in a reversal of the alchemists’ goal. Is this the hidden negotiation agenda?
Is the attraction that of the Ali Baba or other gang philosophies? What are the influences and the underlying secrets that entice these persons into “abandoning the Force to go over to the Dark Side”? Who becomes the Darth Vader (the powerful enforcer who follows a more powerful and insidious Emperor) and executes his dominance against the will of the people? When will the Resistance arise, and who will be Princess Leah and Luke Skywalker? Is there a last Jedi?
The negotiations follow a long and exhausting process and set the vision through a series of stages:
- Will you join my party? Initial offer.
- Will you join and perhaps lead a group or cell?
- Will you be management of a frontrunner?
- Are you a fit for local or national elections?
- Are you content being a backbencher?
- Are you Ministerial quality?
- Do you consider yourself a future party leader/Prime Minister? Ooops I withdraw that question. Just sign unlimited allegiance to our particular Emperor and a code of silence and protection to your fellow gang members. Ne Varieteur.
But this influence on one side leaves the other negotiators in a position to reverse the rules of engagement.
The original agreement left the political leadership firmly in control of the spoils (initially represented by curried goat and rum). The success of this strategy was not lost on the electorate, who subsequently requested an addition of exclusive work for only party supporters. This, too, met with success.
The further amendment was the protection of turf exclusivity in exchange for the weapons of enforcement, protection from the police, and a promise of undying party membership.
The next addendum came with the realization that the infrequent curry goat meals no longer met the ongoing needs, and that lifestyle improvements required greater financing than a most indebted nation could provide. The agreement was for unimpeded access to the movement of drugs (ganja to cocaine to other forms of illegal trade including guns and ammunition).
The result of the escalated agreement provided for the effective removal of the Emperor and the Royal succession and their replacement by the Don (Capo di Tutti Capi). The Empire was replaced by the New World Order and the Empire was reduced to a mere figurehead populated by persons who could talk but not implement.
The Star Wars sequel continues (in a deep voice): “In the year 2010 the Empire was in chaos and the Emperor of the time Marcus Brucus went into voluntary exile and in short order his successor Andrew Youngus passed over to Portia Flavorus. But the transformation of Andrew on the road to Damascus prevailed and he grew older and wiser in the eyes of the people. But by then the New World Order was fragmented by the missing Don Dudus and chaos ruled the underworld as underlings and scammers teamed up to confront the Empire. The Emperor devised a Death Star construction to eliminate the rebels. This is the continuing saga of a world in chaos. But the New World Order got early warning and dispersed to other parts of the universe to gain strength for another counter attack. The Empire retired old Vaders and brought in previously unknown Dark Warriors. The Empire appointed the well beloved General Antonius to lead the Legions”. Salvete!
What direction will the negotiations take next?
100 marks for a full analysis on the final exam.