It’s all about creating added value. That makes sense. So why do we rarely act on it?
The other day I was discussing with some of my colleagues
how we can work together on a concrete project. We liked each other, at least we appreciated very much what each other could bring to the cooperation in terms of skills and competences. We quickly agreed that we wanted to work together. That would be good for the project. And in other respects, too, we felt that we would all benefit – including the customer, of course. A classic win-win situation. That’s what makes the added value.
The procedure was quickly agreed upon: Who does what when, who is responsible for what tasks. Just as quickly, we also agreed on the larger contractual framework: with which goal in mind do we organize our cooperation and how? And – also important, of course – we quickly agreed on the money.
The contract, it seemed, was just a formality. So we exchanged drafts, asked questions, received and gave answers, asked for this and that, and gradually adapted the contract.
But then something unexpected happened: Suddenly we began to wrestle over a few small, almost unremarkable contract details. We exchanged arguments, explained our positions. The matter became tough, stalled until finally one of us announced, “I’m not negotiating this.”
After some back and forth, we contritely realized that we probably didn’t have a basis for cooperation after all. So we parted ways. And so the collaboration imploded even before it had started. And with it the added value that was just within reach.
Something like this is typical
and happens thousands of times a day. But why is it actually happening?
Why do hopeful collaborations fail, promising the added value that is so important after all? Why do they collapse, of all things, over presumably insignificant trivialities? When everyone is usually convinced that they can create something so much bigger? Isn’t that paradoxical, even tragic?
In negotiations, it is indeed conditions that are in the foreground
but in reality, we use these conditions to explore a common value system. This system is the foundation for cooperation.
It becomes visible through the concrete regulations and is the real engine of any business relationship. This is because it defines what is to be paid attention to in the cooperation, what is important for all parties involved.
If anything significant remains unconsidered here, something that is important to one of the participants, the personal motivation to cooperate immediately dwindles. The same applies if even one important value is violated.
This is intuitive and understandable: Why get involved with someone and even stand up for them if they disregard important needs of ours?
When this question comes up
the basis for cooperation – especially a good one – is at least shaky from the start. It is then very likely that not everyone will contribute with all their strength and motivation. Moreover, it is quite likely that some people will consciously or unconsciously sabotage the project.
Then, of course, it is good to refrain from cooperation in order to avoid unpleasant developments.
If you want to check whether a desired cooperation can be successful ask yourself therefore, whether the values SYSTEMS of all participants are to be reconciled. Are the most important needs of the group met?
Sure, but: How?
How to do it? Do we even know what is important to ourselves? Let’s be honest now: Have we ever cared what REALLY drives our business partners? Don’t we all too often automatically assume that it’s all about the dear money? How often do we ask about other, perhaps even more important motivations?
Do as you’re told!
There is reason to suspect that here, too, a deeply ingrained, centuries-old cultural pattern of action will fall on our feet: coercion. Thoroughly we have internalized that whoever does what he or she is told is rewarded. (And punished if we don’t).
We learn this pattern wherever specific behavior is expected and demanded of us. So, actually, everywhere. (Yes, even today. Today especially, perhaps).
The system of rewarding and punishing
We have so much integratedthat it is ALWAYS completely normal and right for us to exert pressure (that is, to reward or punish) to induce action – and, conversely, to have to deal with the pressure as well.
Because we have learned that others may reward or punish US for what we do. And so we may, indeed, MUST do so, depending on the position, position and situation.
Because it is such a prevalent cultural pattern in our world, we almost never question this. And we also do not ask for better methods to motivate someone (they exist).
Just as we usually adopt this performance system automatically and uncritically
we just as often integrate without reflection what is important to the systems of which we are a part: family, education, work. Sometimes this is love or altruism. And in the educational and professional context also often: competition, performance, status.
Whether these things are just as important to us is a question we are rarely asked. And so we hardly ever ask ourselves what is important to us personally. Right now. And also in general.
This limits us
in what we can do. For example, when we place more emphasis on status in negotiations instead of successful interaction. So by saying, for example, “I won’t accept payment terms dictated to me.”Instead of, “What does it actually take to get this thing done successfully as quickly as possible?”
That costs a lot.
Because when we are forced to do something, we automatically go into resistance. As a result, more energy, time and money are wasted than necessary. And it gets worse: creativity is made virtually completely impossible.
The yet so important added value: is minimized or – as the opening example shows – even completely ruined.
Whoever is concerned with added value
therefore sees collaboration as what collaboration ideally is: a game played together for everyone involved. A game in which people are better off playing not against each other, but with each other – if the maximum value is to be extracted.
A game in which you win or lose together. A game that has to be fun for EVERYONE. As a game in which the rules are always negotiated anew and together – and which cannot be played any differently.
As a game in which all can give their best and also want to, if they see a personal meaning in it for themselves.
Whoever is concerned with getting the maximum
therefore concentrates on the essentials. The big picture. The creation of added value. The interaction of all forces, with the goal of producing the best possible result for everyone (!).
Those who strive for cooperation because they want to create added value learn best to believe that all people ALWAYS give their best. And that all people have one thing in common:
Wanting to contribute themselves with all their possibilities, talents, wishes and needs and to achieve the best possible result.
Who is after value creation, ensures to the best of his ability that no one loses, but as much as possible all win..
Value creation and cooperation should be taught in schools and universities!
- Bauer, Joachim: Prinzip Menschlichkeit. Warum wir von Natur aus kooperieren.
- Axelrod, Robert: The Evolution of Cooperation
- Hüther, Gerald: Die Evolution der Liebe. Was Darwin bereits ahnte und die Darwinisten nicht wahrhaben wollen.
- Kohn, Alfie: Punished by Rewards.
- Nowak, Martin A., Highfield, Roger: Supercooperators: Evolution, Altruism and Human Behaviour or, Why We Need Each Other to Succeed
- Pink, Daniel: Drive. The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.