Win Win Win – going for the infinite game

Holding the space for a win win win and the infinite game is a way of being in life.

To sincerely come from the place of triple win we must have transcended our need to win over someone or something.

From the outset, this principle of the triple win demands that we stay in the conversation until all three parties get the win. No one loses, no one compromises. We keep asking the questions until the third or forth or fifth, or sixth… way forward is revealed.

Win win win means that I win, you win and the 3rd party also wins. The third party may be the company, the environment, the community, the people, the family… If there are more than two people in the negotiation, a win win win means that all individuals win, as well as the third party.

What is a win?

In our highly competitive world, the word win is commonly used and understood. It may not be the best word, but it is a word that we know. The opposite of win is lose, and it is the experience of not losing that we are aiming for here. When we stay in the principle of win win win we hold as a clear intent that no one loses. No one has the feeling or experience of losing. Everyone walks away happy. Everyone feels like their expectations have been met or exceeded.

Is this idea of win win win too idealist?

Possibly. But if you are of the belief, as I am, that if you stay in the question, then anything is possible. Staying in the question requires high commitment to finding the solution, by all parties, and the strong belief that a solution is available. The experience in real time of doing this can be frustrating and it may take an investment in time, from hours to days to weeks, to months.

What is required for success?

1. Enough Maturity to surrender our need to win over the other

Holding the space of win win win requires all parties to have matured enough to no longer get a kick out of winning over someone else. The “I win, you lose” position. This competitive gene is so deeply embedded in our current psyche, it is hard to dislodge. Many of us get a buzz from beating someone, being better, smarter, more able to manipulate. If you are having trouble with really playing win win win, it may be because the truth is you want to win and you want someone else to lose. If this is the truth, get some strong coaching, find a way to change your position. Or stop pretending that you are going for the triple win and be clear, at least to yourself, that you want to win and have the other lose. Stand in your personal integrity and own the truth.

2. Staying flexible, open and willing

Going for the triple win also requires that we stay flexible and open. If we are stubbornly fixed on our position, unable or unwilling to listen to another’s point of view…and really listen, (not just provide a space for the other party to speak, and nod our head as if we are listening, when in truth we are thinking about how we are going to respond rather than really listening to them) then we are not holding the space for a win win win.

The triple win demands that we be willing, at least for the duration of our negotiations, to throw all presuppositions into the air, to let go of all positions, to start with a clean sheet of paper, to imagine anything is possible.

It is highly advanced negotiatation strategy. Give up your fixed and rigid positions, at least for the conversation. You have every right to reclaim them as you move towards the conclusion of the conversation. For example, if you are negotiating a financial arrangement, like a salary package, it is OK for you to have some strong lines in the sand of you minimum package. If you enter a win win win conversation, be willing to put this aside while the other party presents their position, stay present in your listening to them (not attached/defensive/angry in your holding your own position).

Why? Because the other party may have thoughts, ideas or an offering that you had not factored into your own calculations. Their ideas may be better. And if they are not, both parties need to be willing to re-enter the conversation seeking the third or forth or fifth resolution that allows the triple win. Any one side attached to their own agenda means we have reduced the conversation back to a win lose. “I want to be right!” or “I want my way to happen!” A win win win is a powerful conflict resolution technique, inviting a game change.

3. Stay in the question

A commitment to win win win is not an easy position to hold. We have many competing commitments, such as deadlines, time, energy, patience, belief, desire. Staying in the question means that we keep seeking a resolution, with the full intention of finding the win win win solution. For more on this topic, please see the full article on staying in the question.

4. Being creative in our solutions

Embracing both point #2 and #3, openness and staying in the question, bringing creativity to our inquiry will accelerate the win win win. Creativity will allow us to look at the issues from very different perspectives, many that we may not have considered before.

5. Bring in an objective facilitator

If the issue is complex, or has a lot of emotional energy, bring in a third party facilitator, someone who is able to stay independent and objective at the least, preferably someone skilled at facilitation. A facilitator will be able to support the navigation of rocky emotional terrain, plus provide new perspectives, plus ask great questions that open our minds to other possibilities.

6. Use the process of the Conversation for Understanding and Listen till you no longer exist.

To really understand the others point of view requires a level of listening that is an exception to most people’s daily experience. Please refer to this full article for an introduction to this very powerful way of being in listening.

7. Seek resolution not compromise

Resolution means we all walk away happy. Compromise means win lose. For example, if you and I are going to have a meal, and you want to eat Italian, and I want to eat Indian, compromise means you eat Italian, and I eat Italian, or we both eat Chinese. One or both people lose. Resolution would mean that we buy take away, and both win, or we go to a restaurant that sells both Indian and Italian, for example.

A commitment to Win Win Win is the way of the future. It is not naive. It demands our participation, inquiry, possibility, creativity, mutual respect, and adult behaviour. Sometimes (often) what initially feels like a ‘lose’ ends up being a great win…but that is a whole other story.

Photo by Timm Fleissgarten on Unsplash

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