Competition LO18155

Staff Development (
Fri, 22 May 1998 10:57:26 +1000 (EST)

Replying to LO18139 --

Fred Nickols wrote:

>In reflecting on this thread, I don't recall seeing any instances of
>competition with one's self. In golf, for example, you compete with your
>own past performance. The action is between you and the golf course, not
>you and other players. Where you finish is a function of how well you
>play, not your interactions with other players. Would this serve as an
>instance of healthy competition?

Even in a directly competitive sport like chess, there are several ways of
playing the game.

A player focussed solely on winning might follow the advice of the
medieval champion Ruy Lopez: "Place the board so that the sun shines in
your opponent's eyes." Or they might follow the strategy the English
champion Staunton used to avoid defeat from the American genius Morphy -
refuse to play him.

But for the true chess players, the game is not really a contest against
an opponent, but rather a quest to find a winning plan for the position on
the chessboard. In many cases, there are a choice of plans, so players
let themselves be guided by their personal aesthetics. For example, World
Champion Petrosian preferred the gradual accumulation of advantages,
reducing the opposing pieces to immobility in a boa-constrictor grip. By
contrast, World Champion Tal specialised in dashing sacrificial attacks
directly aimed at the enemy king.

Similarly, the true scientist's primary goal is not winning the Nobel
Prize, but competing with Nature in a quest for her secrets.

While the true purpose of a Learning Organisation should not be to compete
against other organisations, but to fulfill their own quest in their own


Richard Hills <>

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