Competing With Competition?

by Dan Robles on 06/13/2009

honeybee-on-flower-300x300 The Competition is Competition ItselfIn quantum physics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that certain pairs of physical properties, like position and momentum, cannot both be known. That is, the more precisely one property is known, the less precisely the other can be known.

A practical analogy is the modern corporation.  It is difficult for a corporation to truly innovate because people behave as a function of the corporation’s interaction with them.  Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle suggests that the more we know about competition, the less we may know about cooperation.

Is competition is good for innovation?

A corporation is a closed loop that feeds on internalization.  External influence is traditionally shunned because of the great promise of the competitive economic system.  We compete with other companies, with our own legal system, with Unions, and with each other.  We hold and protect trade secrets; spend millions on patents that never get used.  We make our “intangible Human Assets” sign “tangible” contracts of secrecy and non-competition.

How do we define cooperation?

We often think of cooperation as teamwork. However, we define cooperation as the alternative to working separately in competition.  The definition of cooperation is derived from competition; the assumption that there is an opponent.  There needs to be a war against something in order to accomplish something together.  If you are not with us, you are against us.

Who exactly is the opponent?

Competition is a deeply ingrained part of our culture.  The business world is filled with sports analogies like; “knock them dead”, “carry the ball”, “we need a home run”, “great save!”  We see that national sports franchises command the highest pay and best ratings.  Reality TV is all about kicking people off islands, backstabbing one’s fellow apprentice.  We have even turned the pursuit of love and happiness into a competition.  The object is to decimate the competition. We define ourselves with slogans like: “may the best man win”; “the survival of the fittest”; “winner takes all”.  Destruction sells.

Beating a dead horse:

So what happens when we compete with each other?  What are the consequences when we decimate each other?  What happens when one departments competes with another department in the same company?  What happens when one person competes with another for a salary and bonuses?  What happens when society competes with Wall Street for their 401K?  What happens when the competition is already lost – do we continue competing or do we then cooperate?

The unwinnable war

After a while, societies and communities becomes a closed loop much like the corporations that they interface with.  They have no idea who the friend is or who the enemy is.  When people are in a game that they cannot win, they feel alone. Loneliness is the war that cannot be fought.

Social Media Cooperation; A closed loop system:

Social Media is emerging as an astonishing force in cooperation by uniting communities and people of diverse and complementary interests, affinities, and actions.  Social media works in a new dimension:  It is a “cultural dimensions” where the opponent is opposition itself.

Social media teaches cooperation. The more we know about cooperation, the less we know about competition.

{ 10 comments }

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Jake Luer June 17, 2009 at 4:26 pm

This is deep: How do YOU innovate? “…the more we know about competition, the less we may know about cooperation.” http://bit.ly/27JTc

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