Win win loses in a global diversity

Because I practise OD in very globally diverse organizations, I often deal with cultures with “different views of win win”.
Most “win winners” have horrible trust breaking experiences in acute diversity. This post explains why.

Case One

The America, China and Israel site are arguing about who gets what portion of the budget. In this budget debate, the Americans suggested a win-win approach to align goals with resources. The Israel and Chinese teams read this as weakness, and haggled for hours, eventually getting a huge piece of the pie. The Americans lost trust and were furious.

Case Two

In a tough negotiation, Frieda (Canada)  made a concession and expected a concession in return. Igor (Ukraine) saw Frieda as too expedient and upped his demands. Frieda walked away from the negotiation empty handed, lost the trust of her boss, and resigned.

The Context

1. Some folks believe that striving for win win is a choice.
2. Some believe win win is a preference.
3. Some believe win win is an ideology.
4. Others believe win win is a religion.

Most in category 3 and 4 are in OD are from the West.

In acutely diverse global organizations, many staff will hold the following views, even though they wear jeans and speak English

  1. Win win is foolish.
2. If one  side offers a compromise, he is weak.
3. Win win is a privilege of the “landed gentry” and it is imposed upon less fortunate via cultural imperialism.
4. Win win is a liberal fetish; “I  prefer dealing with people who are principled and want to win at all costs”.

The conclusion

Win win is not a shared value in acute diversity. So learn to play defence, and learn that compromise is often seen as weakness and exploited.Now, make your choices and “ite sapientia-walk in wisdom.

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7 thoughts on “Win win loses in a global diversity

  1. Thanks again, Allon.
    This was a lesson I learned the hard way early in my (OD) career when I thought win-win was all of the numbers on that list–well maybe not a religion, but close.
    I have another, possibly related question: What about EQ and personal development in a global context? Which leadership cultures would benefit from PD work? What kinds of issues or insights would be beneficial in different cultures? How would EQ or PD need to be presented to be acceptable in different cultures?
    (If you have written about this before, I missed it and apologize.)
    All the best from Krakow,

  2. I had a laugh at the term “liberal fetish”. I wondered how Freud would have metaphorized that one.

  3. In my experience with global organizations and different cultures / perspectives / meaning, ‘common ground’ is more important than ‘win-win’.

    ‘Preparation’ of all parties to understand ‘diversity’ of thought and cultures is paramount.

    Great reminder and write-up, Allon.

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