Dan Burnstein is the kind of guy you want on your side of the negotiating table, and you can have him-virtually-for about $189. A past chair of the American Bar Association'sskills interest group, Burnstein has a software product, Negotiator Pro, that can help anyone to be more prepared when he or she sits down to hammer out a deal.
Negotiator Pro fits into the category of "electronic performance support system." It is at once a learning system and a tool that can help negotiators prepare for a particular real-world situation. The way it works is that the negotiator, let's say the planner, answers questions about his or her strengths and weaknesses and the objective of the negotiation. Questions like, What sort of concessions are expected of you? Will you share information? and Will you use threats? allow the program to assess the planner's attitude toward a given negotiation.
The negotiator/planner then profiles the person, let's say the hotelier, and the issues on the other side of the table. When completed, Negotiator Pro steps in with an assessment of how the planner and hotelier are likely to interact and some strategies for helping reach an agreement.
Even if you don't know what you're up against, the software also has a template of important negotiation-related questions to help the negotiator prepare thoroughly for the meeting. The software claims a library with summaries of more than 50 books and 150 articles on negotiation.
While the software has been around since 1990, the latest versions (4.73 for Windows, 4.0 for Mac, 3.0 for DOS) have expanded greatly the product's background information regarding gender and cultural issues, with 26 cultures now documented. A version customized for meeting planners is due out in the first quarter of this year. For more information, contact Negotiator Pro Company in Brookline, MA; (800) 448-3308; www. getnet.com/mba/npro.