Business is War. (fwd) - Alternatives & relevance (fwd)

Keith Cowan (
Fri, 30 Dec 1994 16:18:33 -0500 (EST)

Forwarded message:
>From cowan Fri Dec 30 16:13:42 1994
Subject: Business is War. (fwd) - Alternatives & relevance
To: (Business Process Reengineering)
Date: Fri, 30 Dec 1994 16:13:42 -0500 (EST)

> From: Stephen Robbins <>
> * How do we understand when competition is good for a system, and
> when it isn't?
I am a big believer in the abundance mentality for behaviour within both
corporate and community social systems. This is inherently "win-win" whereas
the war metaphor is "win-lose". If one defines the "system" adequately, then
competition within the system can be regarded as unproductive.
> * At what levels of abstraction is competition good or not (organs
> vs. bodies)?
It fits best in limited gain environments in which it is essential to
survival to gain "from" someone else. Thisusually applies to limited
markets such as the market for automobiles in which a person will buy
your car or your competitors and one must win at the expense of the other.
> * What forms of competition are good or not (system selects vs.
> conscious selection)?
If the decision is correct regarding the "zero-sum-game" then the war
metaphor serves us well. It becomes really destructive in any form of
relationship as counter-productive and self-fulfilling.
> * If we reject the whole business-as-war metaphor, what other
> metaphors are useful? (What would the world be like if a driving
> metaphor were "business is a co-op?" or Business is a
> Broadway show. Or ...?)
I am doing some consulting with a "coop" business, and although the people
practices and relationships are positive, there is a significant price
being paid in lack of sense of urgency to get a result. To my mind, this
model works well in a protected market niche which is the root of the
cooperative movement, but it starts to break down as soon as "regular"
market forces start to invade the niche. This is happening everywhere as
the advances in technology cause a blurring of traditional boundaries.

Keith Cowan       Phone: (416)565-6253           FAX: (905)764-9604
Toronto        Internet:  Compuserve: 72212,51