Competition LO17997

Winfried Dressler (
Wed, 6 May 1998 11:29:02 +0100

Replying to LO17991 --

>I certainly do not view a supplier/customer relationship as a competition.
>If the price negotiation
>process results in an agreement that either party feels is unfair, the
>result is lose/lose. Please help me if I have missed your point.


We experience the relationship to our customers as highly competitive.

We are a supplier of parts for trucks and coaches. We try to differentiate
our products compared to other suppliers (traditional competitors) - our
customers prefer exchangable products. This gives them (purchasing
department) a strong position in pricing negotiations. Our differentiation
gives us a strong position.

As a formula, I might say (together with Barry Nalebuff in "Coopetition"):
In creating value, we collaborate - in sharing the earnings of this value,
we compete. This competition can be, but need not be destructive ("an
agreement that either party feels is unfair", as you said).

Let me play a bit with the words competiton and collaboration: In this
thread, I feel that there is a competition going on: The competition
between competition and collaboration. I appreciate very much how
collaboratively this competition is developing.

I can find the same competitive pattern in personal mastery: The
competition between reality and vision. As Peter Senge discribed it, it
can lead either to (positive, "aggressive") creative tension or (negative,
"passive") emotional tension. To contribute to this competition in favour
of the vision is basic to Senge's five disciplines. This competition can
only be won collaboratively. If one party (reality or vision) is treated
unfair, the outcome will be lose-lose, as you said.

My point is, that competition is unavoidable, natural, and not always (by
definition) destructive. I tried to provide examples, that competition is
also inherent to win-win-situations and that what appears to be win-lose
on one scale is in fact win-win on another. On the other hand, what seems
to be win-win can turn out to be lose-lose in the long run.

May be I am just unable to see your point. As I wrote before, you are very
right in cautioning possible destructive use of competition ("Backroom
Operations - BO"). But that's not all to competition.

I feel, that competition is closely related to At's essentiality

Liebe Gruesse,


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