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Split the Pie summary

Barry Nalebuff

A Radical New Way to Negotiate

4.1 (282 ratings)
17 mins

Brief summary

Split the Pie by Barry Nalebuff is a practical guide to business partnerships that teaches how to fairly divide equity and make the most out of the arrangement. Perfect for entrepreneurs looking to start a business or restructure an existing one.

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    Split the Pie
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    Key idea 1 of 3

    The negotiation pie approach is the best way to resolve any negotiation.

    So, how does the negotiation pie approach work? Let’s strip things down to the basics. Meet Alice and Bob. They’re sitting at their favorite pizzeria when the waiter makes them an offer. If they can agree how to split a 12-slice pizza, the restaurant will give it to them for free. If they can’t agree, they’ll still get half a pizza, but unevenly split – Alice will get four slices, but Bob only two.

    Alice and Bob need to come to an agreement on how to split the twelve slices. There are several ways they can go about it. One is called the power perspective and results in Alice getting eight slices, and Bob four. This reflects the ratio of their fallback option. After all, if they don’t reach a deal, Alice would receive twice as many slices as Bob. The result is meant to reflect Alice’s position of power in the negotiation.

    Another approach is called the fairness perspective, where Alice and Bob simply split the pizza in half, with six slices each. Many people would see this as the fairest option.

    Both the power and fairness perspectives don’t take into account a very important fact – the negotiation isn’t actually about the whole pizza. Without a deal, they end up with a total of six slices. With one, they get twelve. This means the negotiation is actually only over the six additional slices that a successful deal would result in. It’s these six additional slices that constitute what the author calls the negotiation pie. And when a negotiation starts from this principle, the rationales behind the fairness and power perspectives quickly vanish into thin air.

    With the negotiation pie in mind, Alice and Bob realize that they are both equally needed in order to get the six additional slices. This means they have equal power after all. Sure, it seems that Bob is in a weaker position on the surface level. Keep in mind that if they don’t reach a deal, he gets fewer slices than Alice. But in reality, if they don’t reach a deal, Alice and Bob both end up with fewer slices. In other words, they both lose. In order for them to both get more slices, they need each other equally.

    Looking at it this way, Alice and Bob have an equal amount of power. And this equal amount of power needs to be reflected in an equal split of the six slices of the negotiation pie. This leaves Alice with her fallback option of four slices plus three from the negotiation pie, leading to a total of seven slices. Bob, on the other hand, takes his two fallback slices and adds three more, netting him five slices. By using the negotiation pie technique, they’re both winners.

    Now, some of you might be wondering why splitting the whole pizza 50/50 isn’t the fairest option. Alice and Bob are getting a free pizza here. On closer inspection, though, a 50/50 split isn’t always as fair as it seems. This is because it doesn’t take into account uneven fallback options. For example, imagine the waiter increased Alice’s fallback option from four to seven slices but kept Bob’s at two. In this case, Alice would be losing one slice if they took six slices each. When viewed this way, it turns out 50/50 splits aren’t actually so fair.

    Negotiating effectively is all about leaving with more than what you came in with. And by focusing on the negotiation pie, you and your negotiating partner are sure to both walk away happy.

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    What is Split the Pie about?

    Split the Pie (2022) reveals a new approach to how everyone should be negotiating. While negotiations often bring out the worst in people, it doesn’t have to be this way. By employing the “pie” approach, you can enter into any negotiation with the confidence that you’ll end up with your fair share.

    Split the Pie Review

    Split the Pie (2011) is an insightful book that explores the art of negotiation and the power of collaborative decision-making. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Packed with practical strategies and techniques, it equips readers with the tools to navigate complex negotiations effectively.
    • By presenting real-life case studies and examples, the book brings the concepts to life, making it a valuable resource for anyone involved in negotiations.
    • The book's engaging storytelling keeps readers hooked, ensuring that the topic of negotiation remains fascinating and far from boring.

    Who should read Split the Pie?

    • Employees looking to negotiate a fair pay rise;
    • Students of business and management;
    • Anyone curious about the psychology behind negotiation.

    About the Author

    Barry Nalebuff is a Milton Steinbach Professor of Management at Yale School of Management. He’s also founded several successful businesses, such as Honest Tea. His introductory course on negotiation has more than 350,000 enrolled students both at Yale and online.

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    Split the Pie FAQs 

    What is the main message of Split the Pie?

    The main message of Split the Pie is about the power of collaboration and creating win-win situations.

    How long does it take to read Split the Pie?

    The reading time for Split the Pie varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Split the Pie a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Split the Pie is worth reading as it provides valuable insights into effective collaboration and negotiation strategies.

    Who is the author of Split the Pie?

    The author of Split the Pie is Barry Nalebuff.

    What to read after Split the Pie?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Split the Pie, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Bargaining for Advantage by G. Richard Shell
    • You Can Negotiate Anything by Herb Cohen
    • The Yes Book by Clive Rich
    • Negotiation Genius by Deepak Malhotra & Max H. Bazerman
    • Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz
    • Facilitating Breakthrough by Adam Kahane
    • The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
    • Bringing Out the Best in People by Aubrey C. Daniels
    • The 11 Laws of Likability by Michelle Tillis Lederman
    • Don't Overthink It by Anne Bogel