Win-win (was Punished by Rewards LO14090)
Wed, 25 Jun 1997 09:46:12 -0500

Replying to LO14081 --

Jan Lelie wrote:

>>... one can either compete or not AND cooperate or not. This gives four
>>1. low competition and low cooperation
>>2. low competition and high cooperation
>>3. high competition and low cooperation
>>4. high competition and high cooperation
>>The situations 2 and 3 are the "classical" ones. The either-or paradigm.
>>You're either a particle or a wave; competing or collaborating....
>>situation 4 is only troublesome when seen from position 2 or 3.

Jan mentioned the example of defeating one's son at table football. I
play floor hockey (pretend ice hockey) with my 15 year-old son and we are
very competitive. But we also cooperate as though we were on the same
team. We keep score, we compliment each other's good shots, and we laugh
at our own mistakes. It's a true example of win-win, where the players
are more important than the game.

We also enjoy playing golf together (the mini- and par-3 versions). We
don't keep score but rather discuss the quality of play and many other
aspects of the experience.

Wouldn't it be nice if organizations could work this way. All it takes is
to ask what the situation calls for, instead of what I want to get out of
it. But this is no small matter. It means letting go of the need to
control outcomes.

Someone recently asked for more information about Ayn Rand's meaning of
the term "self-interest." I used to be a Rand fan, because she is so
strong in valuing individual responsibility. But I eventually found her
approach hollow and selfish. It's better to balance one's self-interest
with the needs of the other actors involved - to do so yields far better
results. Put simply, it's system thinking in action without the theory.

Someone else talked about the problems associated with finding political
solutions to social problems. This is perhaps the most obvious arena
where the question of "What do I want?" (win-lose) consistently overrides
the question of "What does the situation call for?" (win-win).

In sum, I feel that until we can play golf without scorecards we will
never get to Jan's 4th option. Which is exactly where we need to be if we
are to continue to evolve.



David E. Birren
Organizational Consultant, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Ph: 608-267-2442, Fax: 608-267-3579

"Teach thy tongue to say 'I do not know' and thou shalt progress."
-- Maimonides

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations
For info: <> -or- <>