Willing to lose in order to win

"In order to win you need to be willing to lose."

We first observed this counter-intuitive idea with best practice teams and then again and again on projects we've worked on over the years. The most successful managers and executives have always been willing to push to the edge of failure in order to succeed. Some call it risk and others avoid this at all times, but in the end, they lose.

Recently, I observed this with a client who's customer (it was a co-development program) had created an unworkable technical relationship which manifested itself in management "overhead" for the development team. This overhead directly resulted in long schedule delays. Rather than challenging this (i.e. be willing to lose) our client decided to "make the best of the situation and hope for a future where it would change -- or the customer's team would change!" Later it became worse. In fact the weakness shown by the development partner further exacerbated the relationship. Weakness tends to elicit even more micro management as confidence diminishes. It is a downward cycle.

My advice was to challenge the relationship in order to change and redirect it. This meant a good deal of risk for our client in that this approach, if the customer objected, could have impacted future sales opportunities in successive product generations with the customer.

However, each time we've been willing to lose, we were able to turn around the power structure, gain control, and redirect the outcome towards mutual success.