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What if I can satisfy some stakeholder needs but not others?

Difficult decisions and negotiations often involve consideration of trade-offs. When we cannot get everything we want, we must choose between various options that fail to satisfy some of our needs. Under such circumstances, it is important to keep three things in mind. First, you may not have considered all possible options! That is, there may be new and better ways to satisfy your needs and the needs of other stakeholders that you have not yet discovered. For this reason, it is a good idea to do a “mini-brainstorm” focused on any unsatisfied needs to see if you can come up with new options to satisfy those needs. Second, be sure to weigh options based on how effectively they satisfy your critical needs. This means you should place greater emphasis on options that satisfy your critical needs even if they do not satisfy other important needs. Look at all of the options together as a package and see if you can improve the package by adding, modifying or removing certain options. Third, even if you cannot satisfy all your needs by collaborating with other stakeholders, you should remember that a “suboptimal” deal with other stakeholders may still be better than not coming to agreement at all. That is why it is essential for you to do a thorough risk analysis, particularly when you suspect that you will not be able to satisfy all your needs through a collaborative agreement. Only then can you tell if you are better off a) agreeing to a deal that meets some not but all of your needs, or b) walking away and not coming to agreement.