Competition vs Collaboration

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Is competition really good for business or is it simply a ‘traditional’ way of operating that requires some much needed attention and re-direction?

According to Wikipedia, “Competition occurs naturally between living organisms which co- exist in the same environment. Competition, in biology, ecology, and sociology is a contest between organisms, animals, individuals and groups for territory, a niche, for resources and goods, mates, for prestige, recognition, awards, social status, and for leadership.

It’s a basic instinct and the primary belief that drives competition is that it helps the crème rise to the top, it drives excellence! We are taught from a very young age to compete with one another and to take pride in being the top of the class, and the only way to get there was to know it all. If we were caught sharing or collaborating with others, for example, say during an exam or an assignment, this was considered cheating.

The trouble is competition is the opposite of cooperation; the complete opposite to most of the aims of life of building communities, teams, organisations and families.

So while I can agree that competition can help promote curiosity and extraordinary innovations in the business, scientific, sport and academic worlds, if unchecked it can also drive a close minded, un-sharing mindset where the focus shifts to defensiveness and protecting what we have.

So what can we do?

We change our mindset, our habits and practice collaboration. It’s redefining the word cheating so that if someone asks about a particular question on the exam and we didn’t share then this is now labelled as cheating. Imagine what this belief would cultivate in our society….

Collaboration is working with each other to do a task and to achieve shared goals. At the conceptual level, it involves:

• Awareness
• Motivation
• Contribution • Negotiation • Exchange
• Reflection
• Commitment

The aim of collaboration is to produce synergy and coherence; cooperation and unity; outcomes that are only possible by working with others.

Effective collaboration can, however, be tough to achieve because we all have different aims, traditions and styles of working. Overcoming differences to forge productive collaboration is a key challenge and you can only do this by realising you don’t have all the answers and you don’t need to know it all. Instead, you recognise the gifts and talents each team player brings, you included, and respect that each person has an important part to play in achieving the task at hand. The sky is brighter at night when there are more stars shining their light, together.

So when it comes to business, and the type of people you want to work with, the world needs more collaboration and team work and less competition and conflict.

My tip is be mindful, be a team player – that’s what we were born to do!

Courtney Wilson

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