Dr Val: Collaboration on tap

Negotiation and ‘Getting the Best Deal’ is a hot topic in the UK, but what does the ‘Best Deal’ mean? Deals and negotiation include give and take, so the gives and the takes have to be identified, examined and their value assessed. If all matches then negotiations can conclude but what happens when they don’t and even when they do, has a Win-Win been achieved?

Win-Win by definition means that all parties involved believe they have gained from the deal, but I would take it further than that; equitable gains, i.e. gains that leave those involved with a feeling of mutual organisational well-being should be the goal. If not then long term a hollowness to what was achieved can set in; a win can easily seem to transform into a loss.

Why does win-win seem difficult? Philosophy and attitude clearly must play a part and to me it stems from deciding whether or not a collaborative or separatist stance is followed. Agreed that if there is a win then there must be a loss. So how can win-win be achieved. My answer to this is collaboration. Think of a set of beer taps, with limited supply of each type of beer. Drinkers wish to gain an enjoyable experience, the seller wants to dispose of all the beer. The beer is sold at different prices.  If everyone through collaboration is able to get a beer that they enjoy within the limits of their resources and what is available; and if the seller is happily able to off-load all the beer trouble-free, then win-win results.

There is no doubt that in engineering, collaboration can bring massive change and quickly. When a common cause is identified and where investments and rewards can be shown to be equitable, then win-wins, can be achieved. There is an art to collaborative working, which starts with being honest and open about the rewards on offer and the investments to be made. AND, offer a collaborative model for taking new technologies and developing them into product and service, examples of win-win are evident from the work done. Analysis of the art and science of collaboration is continually on-going and I am more than happy to discuss and debate this important topic. Please do contact me to register interest.