inevitable, but civilized negotiations can restore faith in humanity.
That is why I am intrigued by
Parley, a simple
and straightforward application from Theory Inc. Parley most often is
used by one side of a conflict but also can be used to help two parties
with opposing views see the issues and possible resolutions to a
disagreement. Parley analyzes and displays all the possible outcomes in
an easy-to-view graph.
In my opinion,
everything that Parley does also can be done on paper, in a Microsoft
Word document or in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. None of those
applications, however, is as elegant as what you find in Parley with its
unpretentious and clickable interface. Parley helps you examine opposing
viewpoints better than anything I have seen before.
You can download a
free fully functional 30-day trial from the Web site. Parley’s Web site
also features an easy-to-follow tutorial that I recommend for anyone
interested in the product.
You start off by
defining both parties at the bottom of the application. Then you list
all the issues between the parties. Each issue should indicate a single
point of disagreement. For example, in an employment disagreement, the
issues could include salary, signing bonus, vacation time, title and
After you input all
the issues, you will need to brainstorm resolutions for each issue you
listed. The more issues and resolutions listed, the greater the range of
options in the end. For example, if salary is the issue, you could list
a range of salaries between $60,000 and $80,000. If vacation is the
issue, you could list resolutions such as two weeks, three weeks or four
Next comes the fun
part. Once you have all the issues and their corresponding resolutions
listed, you slide the “importance” bar to its appropriate location for
both parties. For the salary issue, you slide the bar left or right
depending on how important that issue is to each party. The slider bars
change colors as you move them, glowing bright orange when the
importance is high and a dull blue when the issue is inconsequential.
Then, for each issue, you need to rate the value of the corresponding
resolutions. A two-week vacation might be of great value to the
employer, while a four-week vacation would be of tremendous value to the
All of these
determinations will take some time, and they should be well-considered
so that the resulting graph is accurate. Once all the data is entered
and values are assigned, you can click on the “Analysis” tab to have
Parley perform its magic on your data. An easy-to-read graph appears and
the resolutions you entered are tracked on the graph as dots. I had to
squint to see which color each dot was, but a legend color-codes them to
tell you which contracts benefit each party. Clicking on a dot brings up
the detail at the bottom of the application — summarizing the benefits
or disadvantages each side would experience at that point in the graph.
At either end of the graph, each party would get everything they want,
but Parley lets you see every possible outcome in between. This helps
each side zero in on an agreement they are both happy with.
If you regularly
create documents that show the pros and cons for different parties in a
disagreement, then Parley is worth a look. The trial version is easy to
download and the tutorial is a breeze to walk through. This software can
help make the negotiation table a little friendlier.
Theory Inc. • (415) 315-9460 •
$460 • Windows 2000/XP
Pros: Simple, intuitive interface
with easy-to-read graphical analysis of issues and resolutions and a
Parley requires Microsoft
Windows .Net 2.0 runtime, but it’s automatically installed if it isn’t
found on your system.
I would recommend this product
for legal assistants who are regularly called on to author “pros and
cons” documents for negotiation tactics.