Collaborate or Compete?

Collaborate or Compete?

Collaborate or Compete?

“One finger cannot lift a pebble.”- Hopi proverb.

Many successful people have a competitive streak, whether hidden or overt. It is a type of evolutionary survival instinct – competition drove us to do better and be better than the next guy to outrun that woolly mammoth. Even today, the human desire to be recognized, rewarded, and promoted feeds it, even when studies have shown that collaboration is a stronger determination of success. So how do we create a culture of collaboration?

I recently read “When to Collaborate with Colleagues and When to Compete,” a great article from authors Randall S. Peterson and Kristin J. Behfar in the Harvard Business Review. The article included a chart, which illustrated the different types of work relationships which need to be identified and managed in trying to reach a collaborative state. This idea that you must merge your self-interests with the interests of others means that you must understand the other person’s interests to combine them with yours. When you apply that concept to an entire team, or even with clients, prospects, and personal relationships, you must develop your interest in the other party, develop your empathy, and see the world from their perspective. But here’s the stumbling block with that approach:

“Relationships are positive when people share interests and decide to cooperate to achieve selective goals or to collaborate when their goals are fully merged. This feels the best, but if you assume that your partner has a purely positive intent and is totally aligned with you, and you’re mistaken, you’ve put yourself at risk,” said Randall S. Peterson and Kristin J. Behfar

That vulnerability prevents us from being more cooperative and collaborative. In our world where we manage risk every day, we must invest in internal and external relationships. It’s that real investment in each other, the investment of time, that leads to cooperation and collaboration so that we can move collectively and collaboratively to the same goal. And that is to protect and grow our clients while protecting and growing nFusion.