On Compromise

July 17, 2012 1:56 PM

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to address attendees at a Downtown Madison Inc. breakfast meeting.  The issue of illegal signs and advertising was discussed. One member of the audience asked if I was willing to compromise.

I responded by saying, "I'm not interested in compromise. What I am interested in is coming to reasonable conclusions as to what will work when we value- when we look at all of these values..."

The media message that came from this was that I would not compromise. When the headlines focused on the first sentence of my statement, readers felt that I was intransigent in my position, unwilling to change or listen to others.

Compromising is not problem solving. Refusing to compromise is not refusing to consider alternative solutions.

Others have said it more eloquently than I could.

Stephen Covey, the author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People who recently passed said, "Compromise is the result of not properly perceiving the possible synergy of the situation."

Brad Feld, Managing Director of Foundry Group said it best:

Compromise is a negotiation strategy, not a problem solving strategy.
• Compromise doesn't care whether or not you actually solve the root cause problem.
• Compromise is two polarized positions converging based on each giving something up rather than problem solving.

"The downside to compromising is that it can be an easy way out and reduces new creative options.  If you constantly split the difference or 'straddle the fence,' game playing can result and the outcome could be less than ideal." Fisher, Ury and Patton, Getting to Yes, 1991

And, by the way, the discussions on signs and advertising continue.

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