Step 2 — Creating a Shared Vision

Companies that successfully set out to Get to We view the relationship itself as the focus of the deal. That’s why Getting to We’s Step 2—Creating a Shared Vision—is essential to lay the foundation for any highly collaborative relationship.

Creating a Shared Vision may seem out of context when talking about negotiating, because many books that deal with negotiation strategies and tactics recommend that a negotiator’s first step is preparation: In the self-interested, WIIFMe (What’s in it for Me) context, for example, this means that a negotiator is preparing to maximize his company’s position vis-à-vis his counterpart. Even when approaching a negotiation as a problem-solving exercise, conventional techniques focus on looking through that lens of self-interest to find shared interests as the first step. The mistake? This cumbersome approach assumes there is no mutual shared vision for the future and this is therefore not part of the negotiation equation.

Why is a Shared Vision necessary?

Simply put, high-performing, highly collaborative strategic partnerships have a purpose that is greater than merely deciding upon a series of transactions.

As Peter Senge, author of many books on the subject of building effective business teams, says,

“Visions inspire—breathe life into—our work in the here and now, from the most profound to the most mundane.”

Similarly, a Shared Vision for a partnership breathes life into a What’s in it for We (WIIFWe) relationship: it gives people in the relationship a larger, collaborative purpose.

Some partnerships might form around an external challenge in the market; others to perform a core function for a company, and yet others are internally focused to achieve transformational results and radically reduce infrastructure cost structure. No matter the objective, one thing remains constant: the partnerships that have a clearly articulated vision for the future have a much greater chance of reaching long-term success.

Creating a Shared Vision statement helps parties direct their efforts away from each other and onto their partnership – and achieving the Shared Vision. Without it, businesses and individuals tend to fall victim to a short-term WIIFMe approach as they sit across from each other at the negotiation table. Instead, the Getting to We Shared Vision process gives the parties a reason to stand side by side as they pull together on the rope, rather than pulling against each other in the usual game of negotiation-tug-of-war.

Another important point: the Shared Vision not only strengthens the relationship between the parties, it can also lead to a deeper understanding of each party’s business and how to leverage each other’s strengths for mutual gain.


To see how WIIFWe and a Shared Vision actually works for organizations, see the real life case studies in Vested: How P&G, McDonald’s, and Microsoft are Redefining Winning in Business Relationships.

And read much more about Step 2 in chapter 4 of Getting to We: Negotiating Agreements for Highly Collaborative Relationships, (Jeanette Nyden, Kate Vitasek and David Frydlinger). The book provides a simple-to-follow five step process that will help any company – regardless of size – establish a solid foundation designed to foster a more collaborative environment by shifting from a What’s in it for me (WIIFMe) mindset to a What’s in it for We (WIIFWe) mindset.

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