Win-Win, is Mission Possible

Saturday, June 23, 2012 | comments

Modern business and society become more complex and interdependent than ever, there’s no any party can dominate at the negotiation table from every perspective. The "Win-Win" could be translated to mean "mutually beneficial" and should be seen as a negotiation guiding principle which emphasizes fairness in business play. Encouraging this mind set of equity and fairness should in theory build better long term business relationships.

The definition of Win-Win offered by author and speaker Roger Dawson:
"Win-win negotiating is not a matter of just getting what you want, but of helping the other person get what he or she wants also. And one of the most powerful thoughts you can have.”

1.  Is Win-Win Mission Possible?

 The world is full of win-lose, lose-win and lose-lose deals. In fact if you just look at the odds of a win-win without any other factors, the odds of a coin-toss win-win would be only 25%; and even less because win-win's, by their very nature, are so hard to do and require work, constant attention and focus.

(1)   Is Win-Win only theoretic fantasy or realistic possible

Because win-win is hard and is not the norm, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist and isn't the place a person would like to be. It is about finding out what represents a "Win" in the other party's mind and see if it’s possible to give it to them without harm to fulfilling on your "Win" criteria.

(2)   Classic Example of Win-Win:

The classical example of a win-win situation is the situation where two persons compete for an orange.

·        Win/lose Result: They fight and the stronger party gets the orange, the other party gets nothing.

·        Win-Win Results:  can emerge when the two persons stop fighting and begin to share their objectives and interests and discover that one wants the orange for the peel to perfume a cake, while the other one wants it for the juice to make a drink. win/win agreement is to give the peel to one while the other gets the juice. Both objectives are achieved

(3)   Win Enough or Win-More, Win-Less Scenario:

It takes two parties to tango,  many may think inevitably in an arrangement of such,  one party will gain more than the other,  so it is hard to get "even steven"(50/50) which some may argue as a true Win-Win.

Not all business negotiations are about "die hard" winning.  In fact, very few are actually win-lose situations. They are "win enough" situations which are finding out what represents a "Win" in the other party's mind and see if it’s possible to achieve. There are really no options other than win-win, at least win-enough. The problem is not of practicing win-win,  but building a logical, effective way to achieve it without too much compromise. Like all noble things, it’s challenging, but it does pay huge dividends.

 2. Win-Win via Multitude of Lenses

 That said, context of win-win is not about literally winning. It is about negotiating a reasoned and comfortable end point for both parties, to achieve ultimate satisfaction point:

1)      Philosophically Win-Win is about Holism & Balance:
Philosophical speaking, winning without purpose is just like seeing without perceiving,  listening without understanding or learning without gaining wisdom. It's matching and touching the antic Asian philosophical concept of the Yin-Yang, Holism, Balance: a Win-Win Business Deal are made through empathetic understanding, quantitative and qualitative Analysis, "balanced" deal, or a masterful negotiation.

Sufi poet/philosopher Rumi once said something like this. "You never lose anything. Just get it back in some other shape". Or paradoxically,  win-win at one level is often win-lose at another level.

2)      Conceptually, theoretically and practically, is a pursuit of win-win possible?
It seems counter to basic economic or marketing principles. Profit is all about minimizing compromise, extracting the most from your opponent and giving up as little as possible, however morally unfair that may seem. "Winning" to maximizing shareholder's value" as a mantra might be one of the root causes for recent economical recession. Social responsibility and win-win are not antithetical. Its important to be socially responsible while still being responsible to one's shareholders

3)      What happens if “winner-takes-all” organizationally, societally or culturally?
 Then first we must recognize that pervasive systemically entrenched “winner-takes-all“ cultures and practices must be completely discredited as parasitic, myopic, undesirable and unsustainable. Win-Win helps build up last relationship and target long term winning position in strategy making.

4)      Strategically, do most win-win deals have an exit strategy?
The winner may pretend to lose in order to gain the long term advantage; every business changes strategies. A once win-win could become a very competitive environment as both companies evolve.

5)      Psychologically: How does Win-Win stimulate your Happiness Level?
Most win-win situations may leave one feeling frustrated and confused. You’re trying to figure out how you come out a winner. You see how the others win. But your winning seems more like “less losing” or even winning like losing psychologically. But a state of "reasonable happiness" could possibly be achieved for both parties so called "Win-Win" situations, one may not feel extremely happy about it, but satisfy enough.

3. Ultimate Level of Win-Win: Deal Made in Heaven

  As we all know diamonds are hard to find. Same is with win-win both in business and in life itself. The facets of the definition win-win that it starts to look as a beautiful high-quality diamond. And it really exists, but as we all know diamonds are hard to find, same as Win-Win.

Win-Win is a specific point in any business deal between two or more parties, where all parties have the utmost satisfaction at the same moment, of going ahead with the deal.

It’s debatable whether that “Highest Point of Satisfaction” for all parties can actually be known and reached, because satisfaction is again each parties' perception, which is not easily defined. But there are deals which are WIN-WIN, where both the parties are equally happy based on their calculation and defined KPI. We may call it: The Deal Made in Heaven, it takes creativity, dedication and empathy to manage one.

Win-Win Matters for Humanity: Living standards, salaries, life expectancies across the world have been consistently rising over the last few hundred years. To a zero-sum, this isn't possible - because someone must be losing for the others to be winning. But in reality, the pie is not of fixed size, via innovation and societal progress, the pie is created bigger enough to advance humanity.

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