Our History

In 2000, Common Outlook Consulting Inc was founded by Peter Hiddema.   His vision was to make a bigger difference with his clients by building upon the foundation he had already established in the field of negotiation and conflict management through his inspiring association with the pioneers at the Harvard Negotiation Project. 

Specifically, his goal was to give clients a more fundamental understanding of how individuals and organizations create their own problems in negotiations and conflicts, and leave them with a lasting set of actionable skills, and more importantly, habits of mind that they can benefit from for the rest of their lives. 

For Peter, the ideal outcome is for clients to take ownership of the new paradigms and skills they have learned, incorporating them into their way of dealing with others.  In his experience, this produces life-long improvements in the results they are able to achieve and a dramatic strengthening of their most important relationships. 

Peter began using these principles in his days as a Corporate Banker at Royal Bank of Canada.  He was negotiating loan restructurings and bankruptcies during the 1991-92 recession and employed these principles to great effect.  His formal introduction to the field came in 1996 when he joined a firm called Conflict Management, Inc, an outgrowth of the Harvard Negotiation Project (HNP).  See below for further detail about HNP.

History of the Harvard Negotiation Project (HNP)

In 1979, Professor Roger Fisher of Harvard University Law School created a think-tank called the Harvard Negotiation Project (HNP).   Its purpose was to study how people, organizations, and governments deal with their differences. HNP’s goal was to develop theory and practices that would help people deal more effectively with negotiations and conflict.

Professor Fisher and his colleagues studied successful negotiators in corporations and governments in a number of countries. As their research progressed, they identified a range of behavioural patterns that emerged during negotiation of conflict.

They brought their results together in the groundbreaking 1981 book “Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In“. It was the first book ever to suggest that differences are puzzles to be solved, rather than battles to be won. The book became an instant bestseller and still is today. A new field was born.

In 1984 HNP created two organizations to turn their ideas into practice:

Conflict Management Inc. (CMI) – created to bring HNP’s groundbreaking methods to the private sector. CMI branched out into different areas of specialty and in 1997, several new organizations were created to focus on specific fields of interest.  Common Outlook became one such organization in the year 2000.

Conflict Management Group (CMG) – an international non-profit group whose goal was to introduce the ideas to the public sector. CMG worked with non-governmental organizations and UN agencies such as the World Health Organization. They even helped train the chief negotiators in South Africa in the early 1990’s during the negotiations that ended apartheid. CMG eventually merged with an international humanitarian aid agency called Mercy Corps and continues its work as part of that organization.