I have always liked, and disliked, the term “win-win”.
I guess I heard it first from Stephen Covey, or at least that was when I first ‘got’ it. The concept appears widely in both popular and serious business books. I have been known to bandy it around myself with clients – and even use it at home with the kids (much to their amusement).
The term has developed, of course. The most recent version I have seen is from John Mackey’s and Raj Sisodia’s great book on Conscious Capitalism – Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business.
Raj and John use the term Win6 – they use a superscript 6 to signify the 6 different stakeholders of a business.
They mean a refusal by a business person to accept a trade-off (or a “win-lose”) in every one of 6 domains:
- with customers
- with employees
- with suppliers
- with investors
- with communities
- and with the environment
I particularly like the idea that any business person has a choice (Covey made the same point, I think) to either seek a win-lose, or seek a win-win. In fact, I think we may face that choice many times a day.
Hopefully, we choose the win-win. Even though, as Raj and John seem to suggest, seeking a win-win, or a win-win-win, or even a Win6, may be harder work in the short-term. Finding solutions that help more than one stakeholder may require much creativity and innovation.
I guess most of us involved in Conscious Business buy in to the idea that in the long-term that effort will be amply rewarded.
In fact, I think many business people, especially people running smaller and medium-sized businesses, do take a win-win approach.
Raj and John are simply suggesting we expand that approach – to multiple stakeholders.
But back to my dislike.
I suppose it is partly because win-win has been so well parodied over the years, in comical take-offs of business people. The husband in the brilliant “Little Miss Sunshine” comes to mind.
But maybe it is also partly to do with my approach to life? I am definitely more comfortable with learn-learn. That is an easier choice for me – to promote learning, amongst colleagues, and clients.
Although, now of course, I need to promote that to Learn6.