Five Steps to Getting to We

BY Kate Vitasek
8/12/2019 - HVAC Sales , HVAC Operations

KATE VITASEKAuthor, Educator and Architect of the Vested Business Model


It’s past time for a new approach and mindset for contract negotiations. The next time you face a contract negotiation, think about its purpose.  If you simply need to get to a deal, perhaps “Getting to Yes” is good enough. But if the purpose of the deal is to build a strong, healthy relationship, perhaps you need to make the shift to the five-step Getting to We process, where the relationship becomes the focus of the deal, throughout the life of the deal.

This process is described in the book Getting to We: Negotiating Agreements for Highly Collaborative Relationships.

Getting to We starts by changing the way the negotiation is approached by embracing a “what’s-in-it-for-we” (WIIFWe) mindset, forming the structure of a collaborative and trusting relationship.

The Five Steps of Getting to We

1. Getting ready for WIIFWe

The first step is to discuss three foundational elements for a successful collaborative relationship: trust, transparency, and compatibility. Completing this step helps the parties to understand to what extent they can build the foundation for their relationship.

2. Jointly agree on a shared vision for the partnership

The second step is to discuss and create a shared vision for the partnership. Each party enters the discussion with their own vision, of course. But then the parties transform those separate visions into a shared vision, giving the partnership its purpose far beyond a series of transactions.

3. Collaboratively negotiate guiding principles for the partnership

The Getting to We process demandsthat partners establish highly collaborative relationships based upon a foundation of six common social norms or guiding principles. The guiding principles establish a behavioral foundation for a trusting and productive relationship—provided that they also act in accordance with the parties’ expressed intentions. These “cultural norms” are the foundation and substance of a high-performing collaborative relationship. The guiding principles are:

  • Reciprocity
  • Autonomy
  • Honesty
  • Loyalty
  • Equity
  • Integrity

Getting to Wefully explores how the guiding principles are necessary to turn a business relationship into a collaborative, trusting partnership built to last.

4. Negotiate as We

Following the Getting to We process means that parties do notstartby negotiating the details of the deal such as the scope of work, pricing, and terms and conditions. Rather, they first establish the mechanisms they will use as they negotiate those details. This includes agreeing on the “negotiation rules,” the strategies and tactics, and the methods for ensuring the deal is fair and balanced. For example, make a list of negotiation strategies and tactics that will be acceptable versus those that will be off limits. It is powerful when the parties jointly agree to forbid adversarial negotiations tactics such as “good cop/bad cop,” “stonewalling,” “

5. Living as We

At this point the partners have gotten to what is a far less painful approach to negotiate the details of a contact. However, they are not done. Step 5 includes negotiating how the parties will maintain the relationship after the contract is signed.

The Getting to We message is clear and simple: be nice, act ethically and treat business partners with respect and trust.


Meet Kate at HARDI's 2019 Focus Conference. She will be presenting "WE: Negotiating Agreements for Highly Collaborative Relationships" during our Supply Chain track.