Win-Wins Can Build Your Project Team’s Brand — and Your Profession

The recent Qantas Airways network shutdown was a good example of an industry taking a long-term view of what is best for the industry. Rather than overtly exploiting the problems and passenger discomfort caused by the disruption, Qantas’ competitors scheduled additional capacity and cooperated to minimize the overall inconvenience to the flying public.

An obvious consequence to this is that passengers may discover they like the rival airline and keep flying it. But overall, the airline industry worked to minimize the damage to the air travel category. Everyone recognized the collective overall need to keep the flying public flying and returning to repeat the experience.

This win-win approach is a stark contrast to the situation where a competitor’s primary aim is to score a short-term win, regardless of the damage caused to the sector. If Qantas’ competitors had resorted to negative advertising pointing out how bad the Qantas service was, for example, there would have been damage done to the overall perception of flying.

Now, consider your next argument with one of your project’s stakeholders, either internal or external. While your stakeholders may not be competitors, it may benefit you to use the same “win-win” approach.

You have a clear choice: You can work collaboratively to build your project team brand and even enhance the larger project management profession. Or, you can go all out to win — and if you lose, make sure your competitor can’t win.

The latter approach always causes long-term problems.

If the customer loses, the relationship will be damaged and they’ll be looking for an opportunity to get even. You also permanently damage your long-term opportunities. If you lose, you’re no longer part of the solution. You’ve effectively negotiated yourself out of a role.

The alternative is a collaborative approach where you seek to build the best outcome with as many of your needs, wants and ideas embedded in the final solution as possible. This collaborative solution will, of course, include some of your stakeholder’s wants and ideas, but may result in an overall better outcome for everyone by transforming the problem into a win-win solution.

In this scenario, you may have made some compromises, but you’re still in the game and can influence the outcome. The relationship is maintained and you have helped maintained the image of the team and the project management profession.

What do you think? Short-term “wins” may feel good. But if the consequence damages the customer’s perception of you and your project, is the short-term gain worth the long-term pain?


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