Competition LO18152

Dennis Keibler (
Thu, 21 May 1998 13:29:55 -0500

Replying to LO18142 where Scott Simmerman wrote in part:

> about the lessons learned riding my bicycle - a bit like "Zen and the Art
> of Motorcycle Maintenance," methinks.--

Thank you Scott and others for the variety and depth of lessons you have
contributed. My mental model of being a competitor has grown over the past
few weeks.

I'm trying to incorporated some of my recent learning from this thread
into a retail business environment. I have a feeling that I must
understand more fully my own goals and intentions, as well as those of

The cycling story (LO18142) can be seen as an analogy for several
different situations. One can view each rider on the trek as a member of
an organization, with each person contributing (or not) to advance the
whole as well as themselves. Also, each rider can represent a company
within an industry, with each working (or not) to promote and better the
industry as well as benefit themselves. Do the motivators and consequences
of competition and cooperation in this analogy apply equally in both
situations? I might like to think so, but perhaps that's being too
idealistic. And to what extent can these factors about competition be
inferred to other situations, and within what parameters?

For example, helping a new employee find their way around the company, and
warning other cyclists about a pothole are cooperative actions that are
relatively easy and common. We can do these things and feel good about
ourselves in the spirit of mutually beneficial competition. But if a
competing store opens up across the street from us, servicing our same
customers, it's not as easy or as casual to warn them if they are, say,
keeping the wrong business hours and missing a lot of sales.

It would be nice if helping a competitor always came natural, but
sometimes cooperating with a competitor is perceived as threatening to our
own goals. If the goal is survival, and if not reaching the goal means
that we immediately cease to exist, there is often less of a tendency to
be cooperative. But assisting someone is easier when our only cost is a
minor inconvenience and our goals are not compromised.

As an organization moves up a figurative mountain, if the goal is to reach
the top together, as one, then much cooperation may prevail. If the goal
is to have everyone make it to the top as best they can, a
competitive/cooperation environment may develop where hopefully we all can
learn about being mutually beneficial. And if our goal is to be the sole
achiever, the only number one, the winner, then conflict will eventually

So perhaps the goals I set for myself and for by business dealings somehow
determine where I fit on this continuum between cooperation, competition,
and conflict. If in the end I must win when another must loose, I can
expect competition with conflict. Or my goal can be a never ending journey
where cooperation is a part of competition.

And then, just maybe, the motivators and consequences of competition and
cooperation do apply equally to all situations, and it is only the time
frame that is different?

Thanks for you thoughts,



.-------------------------------------------------. |. ' ||. ' |||..................................................' ||| Dennis Keibler | HSC Biostatistics Center || ||| University of Louisville | Louisville, KY || *|| || *| || ****************************************************"

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