Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

The S-curve


Last week we saw that many of us go through life with the scarcity mentality ruling our behaviour. We think: “Me first, then you” and we are afraid if someone else is successful, there is less remaining for ourselves. The way we behave in traffic illustrates this well. We leave our homes by car and we are on our way dropping the kids to school and going to work. We are in a hurry and so are most of the other road users. We have to make it in time. We are driving our car in the Win/Lose mode. We want to pass a busy spot before others and we hoot frequently, warning others to get out of the way. When there is an obstruction in the traffic, the Win/Lose now really gets the upper hand. Instead of patiently following the line we are in, many drivers begin to overtake, thinking they can bypass everybody else and pass the obstruction. They are saying: “As long as I pass this place, I don’t care about the other road users. As a result however, they block the un-coming traffic, jamming the entire traffic. Now we are all stuck. Even the one who has a brake down will not take his or her car to the side of the road, allowing the traffic to flow. They need to fix their problem and don’t care about the rest. As a result again, the traffic jams. Do I even have to mention the taxi drivers, who need to get to the next passengers before the others and in the process block them. We all have “Me first, then you!” written all over our forehead. As a result however, none of us are getting anywhere. The result is the opposite and instead of winning we also lose. The result of Win/Lose is often Lose/Lose.
How does this work in doing business then? Suppose I am supplying your company with goods and I have negotiated a deal with you, which is mostly to my advantage and not yours. In such case I win and you lose in the short term. I am getting what I want now but will you continue to do business with me? Maybe not and my short term win will be a long term lose. Win/Lose is really Lose/Lose in the long run.  
Things can really be different if we seek mutual benefit instead. If we are able to think Win/Win, agreements and deals are beneficial to all parties. They feel good about it and make it work. Thinking Win/Win is being co-operative, not competitive. Win/Win is not your way or my way; it is a better way. An essential character trait for Win/Win is the abundance mentality as opposed to the scarcity mentality that we looked at earlier. The abundance mentality is a paradigm that means: there is plenty for everybody. 
It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. Thinking Win/Win may result in Win/Win agreements between companies and suppliers, employer & employees, any group of people who interact to accomplish something. A Win/Win agreement is an effective way to clarify and manage expectations and will include the following five elements:
•    Desired results
•    Guidelines, rules & regulations
•    Required resources
•    Accountability – describing how
results will be evaluated
•    Consequences  – what will happen
as a result of the evaluation
Thinking Win/Win may not always result in an agreement though. But if we can’t find a solution in which both parties recognise themselves, it is possible to agree to disagree in a respectful way: No deal. When we go into negotiations with the No deal option in our mind, there is no need to manipulate people, to push our own agenda, to try and win while the other loses. Thinking I want to win and I want you to win too, it may be better not to make a deal than to end up with an agreement that isn’t right for both.  Maybe another time it is possible to come together. 
Some time ago, I came across the following news item, which to me looks like a Lose/Lose situation as a result of a long time Win/Lose mentality practised by many airlines in general. Caring more for disadvantaged passengers could have prevented such strong measures. Have a look:
“New air traveller rights take off”
BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuters) — Airlines using European Union airports will have to compensate passengers for overbooking, long delays or cancelled flights under controversial new EU rules. The measures, which come into force on Thursday, have been criticized by an industry already struggling to make profits. The rules are part of a wider set of measures the EU’s Executive Commission is proposing in the hope of easing the strain on travelers in the 25-member bloc. Airlines will have to pay passengers up to 600 euros ($780) if they are denied a seat because of overbooking. Passengers whose flights are seriously delayed or cancelled must be given food and, if necessary, accommodation. In some cases, carriers must give passengers the option of a refund and a trip back to their point of departure. “The boom in air travel needs to be accompanied by proper protection of passengers’ rights,” said Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot. His spokesman, Stefaan de Rynk, said the rules applied to all flights within the EU, regardless of the nationality of the carrier, and to all EU carriers flying into Europe from another country. Non-EU citizens are also eligible for the benefits, he said.
Next week we will continue to look into how we can effectively navigate our way further through the S-curve.