Ride Out of Town on Your Pretty Little Unicorns!


I am following a conversation on linkedin in the Harvard Business Review group.

The argument was made that there are no win-win business deals and that the belief that they exist is paramount to believing in unicorns and the tooth fairy.

Here is my take on it:

To say that win-win business deals are impossible is to say that capitalism doesn’t work.

The belief that it is a zero sum game requires that for one party to win, the other must lose. This assumes that if I got rich, I did so at the expense of someone else.

That ideology is an affront against the basic tenants of capitalism, and is as infectious as the cry for Robbin Hood to give to the poor what is rightfully someone else’s.

As an example: I sought out Business Expert Press (BEP) to publish my book, Managing Employee Turnover. I did this because they can market it better and offer more legitimacy than the self-publication route. They accepted my book proposal. I WIN!

BEP has agreed to publish, Managing Employee Turnover because they know that David Allen and I have written a concise, evidence-based book that managers can use to immediately implement strategic employee turnover solutions. Academics will buy it as an exemplary resource that outlines how managers can use evidence-based management techniques to solve HR problems even beyond turnover. BEP recognized that this book has the potential to sell several thousand copies. THEY WIN!

Managers who read the book can immediately implement evidence-based employee retention management strategies for the extremely low investment of just having purchased and read Managing Employee Turnover. THEY WIN!

Students of HR who read the book will understand the state of the art details of evidence-based employee retention management as well as gain an understanding of how to use evidence-based management techniques toward all HR problems. THEY WIN!

Employers of these HR students win because, on their teams are educated evidence based HR practitioners. THEY WIN!

Looks like a WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN business deal, thanks directly to CAPITALISM. To those that do not believe in win-win business deals, to those who no longer believe in capitalism, I say ride out of town on your pretty little unicorns!

© Dr. Phil Bryant

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11 Comments

Filed under Business Book, Management Musings, Phil's Philosophy

11 responses to “Ride Out of Town on Your Pretty Little Unicorns!

  1. Richard Parrish

    I believe in a completely capitalist society every time business is conducted it is a win-win situation. Any time two people conduct business willingly they both have agreed that what they are receiving is more valuable to them then what they are given up, because who is going to willing enter into a business deal thinking they are getting ripped off. Since both parties are under the impression they are the ones benefiting from the exchange it is always a win-win situation. The only time two parties conducting business is not a win-win situation is when one or both parties are coerced into an exchange of goods or services, and in a truly capitalistic society that would not happen. Unfortunately we are not in a completely capitalistic society, and occasionally we are coerced into buying things. I believe these situations tend to stick out in our mind because we know they are not right, so it feels like they happen more often than they do. This gives us the impression that win-win situations are rare occurrences.

  2. Kirstin Thurman

    Win-Win situations are just as real deer are. They might not always appear but they are there. I personally have been in several win-win situations. I believe it just depends on the person’s perspective. Someone who is optimistic all the time can view any situation as win-win. Where as a pessimistic person would probably view every situation as a loss for them. A real life example would be where I work. A customer wants a certain product that we might not have in stock or is too expensive somewhere else. We can find it for them through our suppliers at a price a couple hundred dollars below MSRP. We order it for them and have it shipped to us, they pick it up. They win by getting what they want for a lower price, we win by making a profit and free marketing. Win-win situations are out there, they just might take a little work.

  3. Daniel

    I believe that there are many situations that we face everyday where there can be a win-win. Like your example, that was a real-life situation where you felt that the wins just kept coming for everyone. Sometimes, some do win at the expense of others but I do not feel like this is the only possible choice. I can recall many instances where I win in a situation but so does the other side of the situation too. I guess it just depends on how you look at the situation because if you ask me, there is always many takes on a certain subject. Kind of like your glass being half empty or half full. You view on the situation and your attitude can affect the win-win outcome or a more negative win-lose outcome. I prefer to believe that there are win-win business deals that occur everyday just like your book situation. No one lost anything but rather gained by either learning experiences, being able to implement new strategies and improve their business, and also for you having a book published. Way to go! My final statement in regards to this is, there is always a win-win somehow in every business deal, sometimes you just have to go in at a different view to see how everyone is winning because it is not always very apparent although it is there.

  4. Jennifer Joyner

    As I am no economist either, but isn’t value really what some one else is willing to pay for something not what the owner feels it is worth? So, is the owner of said product “losing” if he doesn’t get what he feels it is worth? Perhaps, but perhaps winning is actually defined by the end result. An example, an owner of a good sold it for a price he could live with, but not what he felt it was worth to a purchaser that needed the good. The purchaser paid a price he could afford for a good he needed. And perhaps the purchaser paid a bit more than he would have liked, as well. But in the end, isn’t that a win-win? I think it only becomes a win-lose when either party has to give up more than they have invested or can really afford. Alternatively, the purchaser or the owner must have HAD to buy the product or sell it for more/less than they really had in it. So, to that end it becomes a win-win. Capitalism, for me, is a win-win no matter how you slice it!

    • JJ,
      I like your quote about a win-lose business deal:
      “the purchaser or the owner must have HAD to buy the product or sell it ”
      I like the stress on the word “HAD”.
      Sounds like Obama-Care to me.

  5. Noah Watkins

    The comment I left Dan.
    Dan,
    I believe that in this day in age we live in a world of competitive nature and sometimes feel that not getting cheated is the ultimate goal. As long as you personally feel that you can out ahead you “win” the chess match. Where in life do consumers not give up something to get what they want? The same goes for the producers…I believe without getting into a competitive feeling of cutthroat nature, often people feel much better about the deals that they make. I look at it in terms of an intense negotiation, though often we aren’t in that high intensity atmosphere we must settle differences through compromise. You jut have to be willing to do it.

  6. Rich, I don’t see your comment there. Anyway, I just posted the following:
    “Guys,
    I am no economist, but…

    Say I have an apple grove and produce 100,000 apples per year. All I can eat in a year is about 1,000. I also wish I had 1,000 oranges I could consume in the same year.

    You have an orange grove producing the same and your consumption is the same. And you would also like about 1,000 apples per year.

    We trade 1,000 apples for oranges. Same with the banana guy, the grape guy…

    If it weren’t for our business transactions, we’d all be LOSING out on 900,000 fruits per year.

    Someone please explain to me how this is not a WIN-WIN!

  7. Rich Cellino

    just posted this on Dan’s Blog..Dan, thanks for your thought provoking comment. If you say win/win can’t exist in business how do you explain the idiom “i’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine”? If you do something for me that I cannot do for myself, I will do something for you that you cannot do for yourself. Wouldn’t the two parties walk away successful? We get to a point of relativity here and the difficult task is quantifying what winning means. We’ll see where it leads.

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