Competition LO17945

Richard C. (
Fri, 01 May 1998 20:03:09 -0700

Replying to LO17938 --

[Quote from previous msg inserted by your host... ]

>I don't think it is that simple. Cooperation and competition are
>products of the culture of the organization which is a product of the
>culture of the people involved. I don't think you can have a purely
>cooperative or competitive environment. If we were to put this on a
>scale, I'm afraid, what we'd find is that the person who is purely
>cooperative is rather passive, and the person who is purely competitive
>is so aggressive that they are socio-pathic. So, I think that we need to
>find a balance between both, between passivity and aggressiveness,
>between listening and initiative, between sharing responsibility and
>being responsible for outcomes.

Wish I were smart enough to tell why I can't buy this one, Ed . . . but I
guess I'm not. It doesn't change the fact, though, that it feels wrong to
me. I guess one reason is because my mental models don't demand a
passive-aggressive evaluation of cooperation and competition. Among
people, one can compete with oneself (setting a new personal best time
running a 10k race, for instance) while cooperating with one's team to
ensure a team victory. In the same race, there are personal competitions
going on among runners with the same capabilities (I think David Hurst
mentioned something about competition occurring within niches, didn't he?)
As an example, if the top 5 runners have best times of less than 30
minutes for 10k's and the next 5 runners have best times of more than 30
but less than 33 minutes, then the competition will naturally occur within
two groups for individual best times.

I only use running as a metaphor here for simplicity's sake. I think we
can find competition and cooperation occurring simultaneously on several
levels within an organization. Competing for initial hiring; job
transfers; promotions; assignments. Cooperating within
sub-organizational elements for successful projects and operational goals.

A number of similar examples are coming to me as I write. I suspect that
this is the 80% of Pareto's Law. Within the 20% exception (if it's that
great) are the milquetoasts and steroid-hyped competitors. They probably
won't be too successful in many organizational niches (indeed, the latter
probably ends up as a self-employed consultant or Pro Wrestler, wouldn't
you think?).


"What concerns me is not the way things are, but rather the way people think
things are." -Epictetus

Thresholds--developing critical skills for living organizations Richard C. "Doc" Holloway Olympia, WA ICQ# 10849650 Please visit our new website, still at <> <>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>