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Competition Is Dead. Long Live Cooperation!

This post was originally posted on Linkedin, 16th of Sept, 2015. Revised

To compete, to win, to outperform other companies has been the very core focus of any good company. Some companies believe that they have to compete in order to be relevant and “survive”.

This attitude is so OLD FASHIONED!

Now let us have a look at the world and see what fundamental conditions for managing enterprises are changing:

  • No longer can the surrounding world be perceived as stable. In fact, it is changing exponentially. (You can read more about it in my former post here). In a fast pacing world, you have simply no time to focus on how to be better than others. Instead, you must pay all your focus on doing your best to improve your contribution. Please note, you are not improving to beat your competition, you are improving to contribute more!
  • To become a prosperous company, you must have a deep understanding of your customers’ underlying needs (otherwise, how would you be able to contribute to them?). Also, you have a vision of how an ideal world would look like if all those particular needs where fulfilled. If you are lucky, there are more teams and organizations set to fulfill your vision. Why would you compete with those companies? On the other hand, you will support them, and you will embrace them! (Do remember that we are evolving our altruistic values. Some people are ahead, others are just at the start, but we are all getting there).  

Let us say now, for example, that your vision is that all children have access to good health care. You do your very best to manifest that vision. Without a doubt, you will be happy if other companies contribute to that same vision as well. It would only mean that you will reach your vision faster!

The benefits of cooperating are so much higher than competing. You increase your knowledge and experience much faster if you exchange your thoughts than if you lock yourself in and try to figure out everything by yourself. The world would have left you by the time you are done.

We live in a fascinating time. Even if you have the very nerdiest interest, I bet that you will find someone else somewhere around the globe that share the same interest. If two people discuss a common problem, as we know, they will benefit from it, 1+1 = 3. 

Professor Adam Grant, author of a good book, “Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success,” has proved, through research, that Givers are the most successful people. (He divides Givers into two groups. For the first group, he has a good analogy: Put on your oxygen mask first so that you can help those around you. The second group helps others without considering their own needs first, so they get exhausted and drained after a while. The group of the most successful people belongs, as you may have guessed, to the first group of Givers. )

It is not too far fetched to believe that the same conclusion is valid for companies. The ones that Give are more successful (without forgetting their own needs.) Or in other words, the ones that contribute to others are more successful.

So what does all of this mean to you? 

Maybe that you can let go of the stress related to competition (among colleagues as well as among other companies)? Perhaps that you and your company can take a broader standpoint and work together with your former competitors as partners? Maybe that you can focus on what is most meaningful for you and enjoy your ride – and at the same time, do good?!

PS. If you were ever considering taking what others share but not sharing yourself. You know that this will not work. People like sharing with others that also share. Besides that, we are entering the time of transparency. Everyone will know everything anyhow. It will cost you to keep something secret as opposed to the traditional world, where you had to pay to get information public. And last and not least. It is so much more fun to share and contribute! DS.