A Black Swan is something rare that has great impact. The impact of the highly improbable. Often this “thing” is small or subtle, or at least initially appeared so.
How does this apply to business?
A Black Swan can be a small or large piece of information that has a high impact on the implementation of a negotiated agreement.
Our basic “hypothesis” in any negotiation is that each side is in possession of at least 3 Black Swans, 3 pieces of information that if the other side knew about, would completely change everything.
Most people expect that these pieces of information will be highly proprietary or closely guarded information, when in fact the information may be completely innocuous. Either side may be completely oblivious to its importance.
Black Swans are a large part of the value of approaching negotiation as a navigation process. It’s a process of discovering not only what the other side afraid to share until trust is established, but also what the other side knows, but may not know is important. There are always pieces of information that the other side is holding and does not understand its significance.
A Black Swan is also a talented negotiator. We started with hostage negotiators who had a great impact in the hostage negotiation world and then learned to navigate the business negotiation world with those same skills. We now are developing more Black Swans in the business world by teaching those subtle, improbable hostage negotiation skills that have a great impact in business negotiation.