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In This Issue


A Message from Stephen

Greetings and welcome to the June 2003 issue of the Partnering Intelligence Newsletter, a monthly newsletter for clients and friends of Partnership Continuum, Inc. (

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone you think might benefit from reading it. Write to me anytime at Your feedback is important to me.

Our caveman ancestor Urg was smarter than you think. He may not have been able to articulate his decisions, but that doesn't mean he wasn't always calculating the odds. If he were surprised by a saber-tooth tiger and happened to have his spear with him, he might hold his ground. But he was also just as likely to get out of there as fast as his feet would carry him. This "fight-or-flight" response governed Urg's life - raw survival was the only intelligence he needed.

But before we get too comfortable with how far we've come, consider that people today are still ruled by this primitive instinct. When confronted we conflict, we all revert to fight or flight.

Of course, over time this response has evolved and become more sophisticated. Even the most contentious boardroom battle doesn't get settled with clubs and shields. Instead of fighting with weapons we fight with words, or we use our power and influence to get our way. Instead of physically retreating, we might become resistant to change, or settle for mediocrity, or staunchly defend the status quo.

The problem with these tactics is that they create a culture of winners and losers instead of a culture of overall achievement. I recently attended a board meeting where I saw team members reverting to the flight-or-fight response in a way that was ultimately hurting the organization. You would have thought we were back in Urg's day, when the rule of the land was eat or be eaten.

How do we break free from this programming? Under stress our instincts will lead us to do what is most familiar, but our partnering intelligence can help us find solutions that benefit everyone. As we'll see, the answer lies in using the Win-Win Orientation.

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"Between stimulus and response is a space. In this space lies our freedom to choose our response. In these choices lie our growth and our happiness."

Stephen Covey

"Learn what is true in order to do what is right."

Thomas Huxley

"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

Collin Powell

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Win-Win Orientation Team Profiles

Greg is the president of a small firm that manufactures medical devices. His executive team consists of Kim, the CFO; Chris, the head of marketing and sales; and Mary, who handles research and development. As Midwesterners, these executives pride themselves on being nice people who have strong values and ethics, and are easy to do business with. All of this is true. However, their work is also being hampered by an underlying level of interpersonal conflict.

Recently Greg asked us for help. When we interviewed the team, it became very clear they were having problems resolving conflict. They couldn't agree on anything important; they were avoiding each other; and they stalled on crucial decisions behind a smoke screen of "needing more information." On the surface they were polite to each other, but Mary said that sometimes "you could cut the atmosphere in our meetings with a knife."

We began by administering our Win-Win Orientation Assessment. Each team member took the assessment individually. The graph below represents the results, and helps explain why this team was having a problem resolving their issues.

Interpreting the Graph

The five different styles of conflict resolution are written along the bottom of the graph. Starting on the left there is the Evader, then the Harmonizer, the Compromiser, the Fighter and the Negotiator. Each of first four styles stems from the fight-or-flight response. These are innate styles. The Negotiator style, however, is not a natural response. It can only be learned, and it is this style that is so vital to organizational success. The innate styles result in either a win/lose or lose/lose outcome, but the Negotiator's primary objective is to create a win-win outcome based on prioritized needs.

A scale from 1-6 is written along the left side of the graph. The team members with high scores in a particular area are more likely to use that style when resolving conflicts. Conversely, a low score means they are less likely to use that style. To analyze the graph, look at the highest score in the innate styles. The style with the highest score represents the team member's primary style of conflict resolution. The style with the second highest score represents their secondary or back-up style.

A Quick Analysis

A lot of people who take this assessment assume they use a win-win orientation in their dealings with team members. They can all point to times when they used needs-based problem solving similar to the Negotiator style. What they often forget are all the other times when they reverted to their innate style. The problem is that conflict creates an emotional state. No matter how cool and calm you think you are, when you're in conflict you are influenced by your emotions, and your emotions are responsible for triggering your innate style.

Starting with Greg, the president, we can see that his primary style of conflict resolution is to harmonize. Harmonizers are uncomfortable with conflict. Their managing strategy is to give in to other people's needs in order to keep the peace. While this seems like a good strategy, over time all that giving in can cause resentment. This can result in passive-aggressive behavior, as you undermine people because you don't feel comfortable confronting them in the first place.

Greg's secondary style is to evade, which creates a difficult situation for him and his team. When he has a high need but can't harmonize with his direct reports, he avoids the conflict entirely and makes decisions on his own. This alienates his team and intensifies the conflict.

Kim, the CFO, is a classic Fighter. He turns every conflict into a competition, and one he plans on winning. Unlike Harmonizers, Fighters are convinced that they're always right and they will do whatever it takes to win. Kim's secondary style is to compromise. When he knows he can't win outright he'll give something up to reach an agreement.

As noted by her relatively straight line, Chris from sales and marketing has a fairly well-balanced approach to conflict. She moves back and forth between Compromiser and Harmonizer, but she will also become a Fighter if the issue is important enough to her.

Mary, the head of R & D, is also a high Fighter, which has created an interesting dynamic with Kim. The two of them are always wrestling over the cost-benefit analysis of a particular project. When she and Kim go at it, the other team members tend to fade into the woodwork until the whole thing blows over. The rest of the team looks to Greg to resolve the issue, but he always seems to give in (usually to Kim if you ask Mary, or to Mary if you ask Kim) or evade the whole issue.

Getting to Win-Win

The problems these conflicts are causing the team are imposing. With two high Fighters and two low Fighters, there is often a "Battle of the Titans" with the low Fighters sitting on the sidelines cringing. Add a CEO who is unwilling to engage in conflict at all, (which, by the way, is surprisingly frequent - and not necessarily a Midwestern trait) and it only makes matters worse. What can they do?

First, each team member must strive to understand each other's innate style. It's a big step, but many teams find that it's actually a relief to talk about the mechanism behind the conflict.

Next, the team must acknowledge and understand how emotions are pushing them to revert to these innate styles. Greg must break through his veil of denial, while Mary and Kim have to stop looking at each other as competitors and start acting as partners. Chris can use her fairly balanced approach to help coach the other team members toward taking the next step, which is moving to the Negotiator style.

The good news is that the assessment indicates that each team member has an intellectual understanding of the Negotiator style. To fully embrace this style, the team will have to consciously decide that they do not want to react to conflict based on emotions. Once they have committed to this new approach, they can use the following steps to achieve a new level of cooperation, commitment and achievement:

Getting to win-win can be time consuming. But the alternative of creating losers on your team will ultimately cause you to waste more time and resources than spending the energy up front and resolving the issue. The first time you create a loser on your team, you've set up the dynamic for ongoing conflict to occur.

This quick analysis is just the beginning of how the Win-Win Orientation Assessment can help your teams get on the right track from the start. But the first step in becoming a great collaborator is awareness. Knowing your team's Win-Win Orientation sets the stage for resolving future conflicts quickly by helping you understand each member's style and providing a context for discussion about conflict styles in general. It is a crucial step toward creating a successful partnering relationship.

Partnership Continuum, Inc. can set up a confidential online Win-Win Orientation assessment for you and your team or company. To learn more about how to bring this innovative partnering technology to your business, contact us at:

+1.612.375.0323 - Worldwide
+1.888.292.0323 -Toll Free USA
+1.612.317.0713 -Worldwide Fax

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Building Your Toolkit

Try the Win-Win Orientation Assessment. Partnership Continuum, Inc. is offering this Partnering Intelligence Newsletter special offer. We will send you 5 Win-Win Orientation workbooks for te low price of $39.80 + $5.00 shipping and handling.

This is a savings of $9.95 and available only at our online storefront at:

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+1.888.292.0323 - Toll Free USA
+1.612.317.0713 - Worldwide Fax

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From the Field

Building Strong Partners Through Cultural Change - by Phyl Burger

During a recent trip to my local bookstore I was drawn to the title of an article in a business journal. It asked: "Are You Built to Change?" It's an important question, and immediately I thought of the Girl Scouts of Greater Minneapolis. This organization, which has a rich history and tradition, has not allowed itself to be stuck in the past. Organizationally they are embracing change every day at every level.

Last year, CEO Shelley Jacobson started moving the organization from relying on departmental teams to a more holistic partnering approach. Leading from the top down, Shelley, her executive team, and all supervisors participated in a customized Building Smart Partners training program. This spring, all employees participated in a workshop focused on identifying and improving their partnering quotient. "The response from the staff was extremely positive," said Jacobson. "This was an opportunity for everyone to identify their similarities and differences in each of the partnering attributes. This helped explain the dynamics of what is happening in their relationships with one another. Now we all have a common language for being a partner and building partnerships."

Currently the supervisors are working together to create a "toolbox" of ice-breakers, resources, and activities that use the six partnering attributes. "Our supervisors recognized the need to provide easy access for our people to lead the way in partnering," said director of development Brenda Brown. "Everyone in our organization needs to be involved in the change. These activities are an extension of our training. We are using the toolbox in small group discussions and workshop environments. We are also using our toolbox to role model partnering with our volunteer groups."

The Girl Scouts of Greater Minneapolis recognizes that partnerships by design are twice as successful as those by evolution. Congratulations!

Phyl Burger, senior consultant, heads up our St. Paul, Minnesota office and can be reached directly at, etc 651.501.5697.

+1.612.375.0323 - Worldwide
+1.888.292.0323 - Toll Free USA
+1.612.317.0713 - Worldwide Fax

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Need a Keynote Speaker for Your Next Partner Meeting?

Are you looking for a keynote speaker for your next partnering conference or event? From New York to Kuala Lumpur I've been delighting, informing and helping audiences understand the complexities and nuances of partnering skills, partnering processes and what is takes to build successful partnerships. If you're interested in learning more about my keynote presentations, please contact me at +1.612.375.0323 or

You can also check out our online video presentations at:

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On the Topic

For more detailed information about Win-Win Orientation, look for my article, The Importance of Win-Win Orientation at:!sdwinwin.html

Conflict and Interaction by Joseph P. Folger, Marshall Scott Poole, and Randall Stutman observes that conflict can be positive as well as destructive. Read it online at:

Conflict Resolution, by Dr. Robert A. Mulligan of Cornell University's Department of Applied Economics and Management, gives excellent tips on how to move to Win-Win. The article is short, to the point, and very helpful. Read it at:

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News and Announcements

Our foundation seminar, Building Smart Partners™, will be held September 16-18, 2003, at the beautiful Minneapolis campus of the University of St. Thomas. Register before August 15, 2003 and save 15% off the registration fee.

To learn more about the Building Smart Partners™ Training, click here:

To register and receive your discount, contact us at:

+1.612.375.0323 - Worldwide
+1.888.292.0323 - Toll Free USA
+1.612.317.0713 -Worldwide Fax

Mark your calendars for our autumn Partners Relationship Management seminar October 7-8, 2003. This new two-day session is designed to help customer-supply managers, strategic alliance directors, business development executives and others who manage important business relationships learn how to manage, grow and profit from their business partnerships.

The fee for this training is $1,199.00 and is scheduled to be held on the Minneapolis campus of the University of St. Thomas.

To register, contact us at:

+1.612.375.0323 - Worldwide
+1.888.292.0323 - Toll Free USA
+1.612.317.0713 - Worldwide Fax

In this edition of Other Voices, we hear from David Archer and Alexander Cameron from SOCIA in the UK on Making Public/Private Partnerships Work. Look for more of these types of government/private partnerships happening in the United States.

The Partnering Intelligence Fieldbook: Tools and Techniques for Building Strong Alliances for Your Business, which I wrote with Sandra Naiman, is now available. Featuring more than 100 assessments, surveys, checklists, and partnering techniques, this is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to improve his or her partnering skills.

Check our Web site for details:

Do you need a keynote speaker to talk about alliances and partnerships? For the past three years, I've been giving exciting and informational talks at conferences and meetings around the world on creating great partnerships and alliances.

To learn more about my topics, or to arrange for me to speak at one of your events, contact us at:

+1.612.375.0323 - Worldwide
+1.888.292.0323 - Toll Free USA
+1.612.317.0713 - Worldwide Fax

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Partnering Intelligence Newsletter is published monthly for clients and friends of Partnership Continuum, Inc. Copyright 2003 by Partnership Continuum, Inc. All rights reserved.

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