This has been a tough year. Since the pandemic struck us, things had changed at many levels. In time, we have come to this new normal, which unfortunately seems like the old normal with more uncertainty. To make things worse, technology has changed the game for many of us, and it’s adding another layer of complexity. All of these calls for more collaboration and less competition.
For decades, we have talked of competitive advantage meaning the means which enable an organization to generate higher value, for itself and its stakeholders, than its competitors. This implies that for a given market, we’re playing a zero-sum game. If one company wins, another has to lose. That’s the effect of competition.
This is also true for people.
Changing the paradigm
When the things get tough enough, playing a zero-sum game is risky. If we add the huge amount of uncertainty our context has today, businesses can be digging their grave: some of them just can’t afford to stay competitive in an ever-changing context.
With the gap between those more able to compete and the ones behind getting bigger, a reinforcement loop appears: the more you can compete today, the more you win, the more you can compete tomorrow. The inverse is also true. Thus, many businesses are disappearing. This is how a traditional market works.
As a result, the offer is narrow, and so are the options in that market. To make it short, we are losing diversity and also flexibility. This also applies to people. We are leaving behind people not able to compete in these times. But, attending to the pace of changes, this doesn’t seem to be the best strategy. What if we need tomorrow what is not helping them to compete today? What if we have left behind good abilities just because they’re not useful? Maybe it’s time to start changing the paradigm.
Room for everyone
Would it be possible to change the rules of the game and stop competing? How far could we, society, go if we promote collaboration instead of competition?
Let’s be naïve for a moment. After all, it’s almost Christmas.
What if the main goal in business would not be consistent year-to-year growing but consistent improvement for the best of people, companies and society? What if people promote collaboration to ensure that no one is left behind? How could we create the conditions to reduce the gap I mention before?
There is so much gain in collaboration, but it requires a holistic approach. We should see the whole system and not the individual parts of it. This means that sometimes, for the system to win, one of the parts should win less or not win at all, knowing that very system’s component will benefit from the result at the end.
But there are some voices now saying that our economic system, as we know it today, can’t last. The current growth is not sustainable. It’s not inclusive, either. Improving collaboration gives us the opportunity to see the world with other glasses: less focused on the short term and more focused into the future.
This is my wish for Christmas.