AnalogyThe classic analogy for zero-sum is dividing a pie between people. If you get a bigger piece, someone else gets a smaller piece. The equivalent analogy for win-win is baking more pies until everyone is satisfied.
ExampleA real estate speculator buys houses and then immediately resells them. They hope to use their negotiating skills to obtain a profit on this activity. They don't improve the property beyond a few cosmetic changes. This is a zero-sum activity because it isn't creating anything of value. The people who buy from the speculator pay a higher price then if they had purchased from the original owner but they get no extra value. As an example of a win-win activity, a carpenter purchases historical homes that have architectural value but are in poor condition. She fixes them up, adding significant value to each property to sell at a higher price. The people who buy from her win because they obtain an improved property.
BehaviorAlthough some situations are inherently zero-sum, it is usually possible to add value. As such, most zero-sum activity comes down to behavior whereby people seek to gain a greater share of the world's wealth without doing anything productive.
|Zero-Sum vs Win-Win
An activity or strategy that seeks to gain without adding value.
An activity, strategy or agreement that allows all to gain.