The importance of “What’s in it for We”

We at MedSpeed are continually working on how to best create high functioning business relationships, the kind that can be considered true partnerships (a word, in my opinion, that is among the most overused and misused in business).

The key to doing this is uncovering the areas and methods that can create value for both parties in the relationship. This idea led us to take interest in the Vested Business Model, a framework developed by Kate Vitasek, a professor at the University of Tennessee and someone whose work I admire and have cited before.

In one of Vitasek’s most recent articles, “The art of getting to ‘we’ in negotiations,” she discusses the importance of moving from the old-school “what’s in it for me” (WIIFME) approach to the partnership mode of “what’s-in-it-for we” (WIIFWE). WIIFWE changes the focus of a partnership from a deal to a relationship.

Once the relationship becomes the focus of the partnership, “some real work and resources are needed to forge a lasting, collaborative, shared-value partnership that enables both parties to prosper.” Forging a WIIFWE partnership, means both parties must move away from a cycle of concessions and tradeoffs, and instead, establish a collaborative and cooperative partnership: a partnership that brings value to both organizations.

In the linked article, Vitasek lays out both the foundational principals and key process steps to make this transition. This is the true value of her work: she takes a commonly discussed, but difficult to achieve, concept – the “win-win relationship” – and provides a roadmap for getting there, thereby closing the often unbridgeable gap between idea and execution.

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