Kill rivals, do not collaborate. That is what “fire-in-the-belly visionaries” do. The recent article in the Financial Review was reporting remarks from a speaker at their innovation summit.
In his opinion, businesses are too friendly.
If we are to survive, we need to behave more like Amazon and Uber – ”hyper-competitive, Darwinian killing machines.”
For me this a reminder of how far astray the way we keep score has led us.
According to Yuval Noah Harari, in his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, our species survived because we gained physical advantages over our predecessors. But we thrived because of our ability to cooperate within our tribe.
We would never have become what we are today if we had not built camps and begun living and collaborating in clans.
The advantage the humans have over other species is that we can collaborate and work together towards a goal.
Baboons will not be able to call a conference, congregate at a particular space, discuss an issue, come up with a strategic plan and go implement.
As humans, we evolved as a species to both survive and belong.
We succeed when we strive to become better and look out for each other, when we find purpose and meaning without always keeping score.
I have noticed that one of the reasons some startups manage to grow scale is their ability to cooperate with others.
They possess a strong ability to cooperate with customers and help them solve their problems.
They work closer with suppliers.
They jointly develop products with outside organisations [like universities, government, and other institutions].
Because of that ability to cooperate, they grow.
On the other hand, however, some companies actually pride themselves on remaining independent from their customers, suppliers, and development institutions. That desire to stay independent weakens their potential to grow.
Being overly competitive can lead to negative behaviour, but that does not mean competition itself is entirely bad.
Cooperation and competition must be balanced and one should know which approach is most appropriate in a given situation.
What kind of world do you want to wake up in tomorrow?
Because that is the world, you will create with the intention you set today.
You can obsess over your competition or focus on creating the future you want to see, a future that matters.
You can keep score or you can do work that truly matters, usually you can’t do both.