Healthy Competition LO18124

Ben Compton (
Mon, 18 May 1998 11:18:53 -0500

Replying to LO18112 --

Rick and Roxanne both comment on the apparent nature of cooperation and
competition within a symphony. I've enjoyed their thinking, as it is
pretty congruent with my own (i.e. that cooperation and competition work
best in a symbiotic relationship).

(As a side note, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is one of my clients, and I
have been privy to some pretty remarkable experiences there. On a number
of occasions I've been back stage during rehersals, and seen the type of
direction the conductor gives the muscians as well as the feedback the
musicians give each other. From my limited observations, it gets pretty
intense at moments and very enjoyable at others.)

The type of competition Rick describes is common in sports. I played
football for years. And every spring we competed with each other for the
first string position. I played running back, and so I competed with other
guys trying out for that position; I did not compete with linemen or
receivers - - these people I cooperated with. In fact, my ability to
cooperate with other team members during try outs influenced whether the
coaches choose me for the first string position. The overall effect is to
improve the performance of the whole team.

I have experienced this at work as well. Earlier I gave an example of a
manager I worked for who inspired in each of us a desire to achieve our
fullest potential through the wise use of measurements. Every one competed
with each other, while at the same time engaging in a really wonderful
type of cooperation - - the type that builds a strong sense of community,
shared identity, and commitment.

This has been my point all along, and I regret that I'm not more
articulate (or more clear in my thinking).

On the other hand, there are times when either competition or cooperation
is meaningless. The purpose of both ideas, however, is to inspire growth.

One of the things I love about Boston is how much people compete with each
other over meaningless stuff. For instance, when there are some pretty
aggressive races from the subway to the parking lot to see who can get out
on the road first; people compete for positions when they drive (i.e.
expect to get cut off a lot; when I first moved to Boston I had a nice
car; I've since bought a junker I drive around the city most of the time
because people are afraid to jockey for position with me because I don't
care if my car gets dinged). This type of competition doesn't seem to have
a real practical purpose. It doesn't make anyone a better driver, it
doesn't inspire growth, and in fact, it seems to promote unhealthy
emotions such as anger, rage, and dangerous driving. I refuse to compete
with other people.

Benjamin Compton
GroupWise Engineer
DWS -- "The GroupWise Integration Specialists"
A Novell Platinum Partner

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