At some level, we can't avoid competition. This list server competes with
time you might spend reading books, watching TV, talking with friends or
family. When you go out to eat, dozens of restaurants compete for your
time and money. Your choice to read Alfie Kohn's latest book precludes
your reading Drucker's latest book. At one level, competition is
Having said that, it is worth remembering why we cooperate. We cooperate
to create something new, to form a possibility previously not possible.
Deming said that he who enters negotiations defending his own position has
already lost. Negotiations can be an opportunity to compete (win / lose)
or to cooperate (win / win). Cells can compete for resources in a fixed
space, or they can cooperate to create a creature able to draw resources
from a wider range. (A unified collection of cells in a gazelle can
travel further in a drought than can a disparate collection of cells in a
drying mud puddle.)
Note that the shift from competition to cooperation increases the demand
for knowledge. It takes a great deal of DNA to form a gazelle out of
single-cell organisms. (And, practically speaking, it takes a great
number of iterative "experiments" to evolve a gazelle.) The pressure to
create new products and markets (and the organizations capable of such
creations) creates demand for more learning.
Competition is inevitable, but it should almost be a "oh, by the way" in
our focus of creating and improving quality of life, rather than THE focus
as it so often is. When IBM and a baby bell cooperate, they can create a
new product and market -- creating a larger pie for everyone. It is this
"cooperation to create" that should be the focus of our policies, not
squabbling over space in the mud puddle.
-- Ron Davison (RonDavison@aol.com), video producer of "A Change in Thinking: Systems Thinking, Learning & Intellectual Capital."
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