(Win-Win Scenario is an annoying business term and is just one of the 212 Most Annoying Business Phrases Managers Effuse, Confuse, and Overuse detailed in the hilarious must-have guide for every workplace: The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room. Available right now on Amazon.)
Allow us to overgeneralize a bit to introduce this phrase.
In a basic negotiation between two parties there are four possible outcomes: Party A can prevail against Party B; Party B can prevail against Party A; both Parties can fail; or both Parties can succeed.
That last example is called a win-win scenario – that is, everyone wins. Of course, this should be the desired outcome of all your negotiations; and it’s even okay to say you’re seeking a win-win outcome when walking into a negotiation.
The issue we have with this saying is the overuse and misuse by some managers. While many who use this term do so correctly (and sparingly), there is a portion of the management population that latched onto this phrase and will simply not let go.
They use win-win scenario for everything… all the time. In fact, they just won’t shut up about win-win scenarios.
Any situation that can have multiple outcomes now becomes an example of something deserving of a win-win scenario. They see the proposed food order for a company lunch, and they utter, “Well, be sure we go for a win-win scenario;.”
They notice a new copier in the office and the first words out of their mouths are, “That’s a real win-win scenario, isn’t it?”
Of course, as bad as win-win scenario is, it pales in comparison to a win-win-win scenario or even a win-win-win-win scenario. Yes, we’ve heard as many as four wins uttered when an unimaginative manager was trying to impress a potential client.
If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, believe us, it’s as ear-bleeding as it sounds.
Replacement phrases: As with many misused terms, there are too many replacement phrases to list. Did your manager mean that both parties in a negotiation should win or was he really just trying to get everyone to compromise? (A comprise, by the way, is often the antithesis of a win-win scenario, as it’s really a tie-tie scenario.)
The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room is available on Amazon