In recent events, we’ve seen an emergence of winner-takes-all strategies come into fashion. A winner-takes-all approach to business turns relationships into a competition. Dog-eat-dog business strategies are unsustainable, and there are much better alternatives, like Win/Win.

“Win/Win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions.”

– Stephen R. Covey

Win/Win In Action

We were contracted to develop a fire safety solution that included a fire alarm and detection system for a local data center that was under construction. As a result of delivering good results and building trust, our client asked us if we would also take on the responsibility for designing the security system for the facility.  The security system was to be more complicated and extensive than the fire alarm and detection system, so the fee would have been larger also. At this point, some businesses would have taken the project despite an obvious lack of expertise. After all, it pays well, why should we refuse the money and admit a shortcoming?

Since we had only limited expertise in data center security, there was a good chance our design would be less than optimal, resulting in less value delivered to the client and more liability risk for our firm.  Our expertise is in developing fire safety solutions, not security systems. In this case, we could make more money, but our client would have to live with any shortcomings or oversights in our design.  We might “Win” (the more money part), but our client would potentially “Lose” in the long run.  We seek Win/Win outcomes in all of our client interactions and this was no exception.  We proposed a different solution, and our client agreed.

We hired as a subcontractor a licensed engineer with heavy expertise in designing complex security systems for high-risk facilities.  We managed the work of this engineer and funneled all communication with the client through us as they desired.  We helped the security engineer clearly understand the needs and goals of our client and coordinated our reports so the client received a single report with two parts, one for fire safety solutions and one for security solutions.  The client received superior quality from leading experts in both the fire and security disciplines while having the opportunity to deal with only one firm in a very simple and comfortable manner.  In the end, the process was a Win/Win:  a Win for us and our subcontracted security engineer; and a win for our client, who was thrilled with the end result.


When we search for a new employee, we’ve developed a Win/Win process that includes opportunities for both of us to learn openly about the other. An independent expert in matching a candidate’s hard-wired work style with the requirements of the position, facilitates the process. Our goal is to to setup new employees for success, not failure. A Win/Win situation for both the new employee and Harrington Group.

New Clients

While seeking business opportunities, we go through a similar process. We learn all that we can about the client and evaluate ourselves to determine if we are the best fit.  We want to be sure we can fulfill all of a client’s needs and exceed all of their expectations. If we believe we are not the best fit, we will decline to offer a proposal and refer them to someone else that we believe is the right fit.  Even when we decline an opportunity, we strive to go the extra mile to help make sure the client still finds a Win/Win relationship with the right service provider.

Profitability is crucial, but generating a profit isn’t a zero sum game. With a Win/Win approach to doing business, all parties benefit. This of course leads more often than not to repeat business and long lasting business relationships. Treating people as equals is not just the right thing to do, it’s also an effective business strategy.

By Jeff Harrington, CEO and Founder of Harrington Group, Inc.