Cooperation vs Competition LO6494

John Farago (
Sun, 7 Apr 96 18:46 BST-1

Replying to LO6411 --

Replying to John Woods

I have been 'off' 'learning-org' for some months. My computer
nor my time could cope with the enormous 'wordload'. So my
intervention here may be inappropriate. Specifically, I did not see the
context of original question: < Myron Tribus wondered .. can
competition ever be good?>

[Now that I have a faster computer and more disk space learning-org
*competes* for my time. As there are only 24 hours in the day I must
choose - that is a win/lose situation. Read (and respond) or do
something else (even sleep?) with my time.]

There seems little doubt that competition has brought enormous progress
to the lives of the majority of people living in the 'developed'
economies. Suppliers competing to satisfy and delight customers have
brought choice, innovation, efficiency , effectiveness and wealth
creation. So there is a strong argument for the competitive market
economy. But as Michael Porter has eloquently shown in 'Competitive
Advantage' it is important to have competitors that not merely play by
the rules but raise the level of the game; so that does require
co-operation among good competitors [As do sporting and play
activities where there are winners and losers.]

The culture of the learning organisation also shows how all
individual;s, groups and organisations that
participate in promoting and implementing learning organisation values
will gain in enhancing their own capability to perform even if their
competitors simultaneously gain.


Nature too - the whole of evolution, survival of the fittest and
ecological balance - is based on competition for limited resources,
with winners and losers. Of course, nature too has lovely examples of
(deliberate or otherwise) co-operation.

In human activitiwes there *are* many opportunities for win/win
situations, but in many
(probably most) situations there are losers (often more than one) for
every winner. If you win the order, your competitors don't. If you
get the job, the unsuccessful applicants don't. If re-engineering
means a process requires five people instead of ten, five will lose
THAT job. In the long run all those unsuccessful people may become
winners in another game and if our culture supports losers and
encourages losers to pick themselves up, we may eventually all become
winners. But don't let's pretend that there *are* no losers.

To believe - or pretend - that winning is not important for survival
and prosperity - only doing your best even if you lose - is a frame of
mind which I (and I suspect most other people in the 'real world') find
hard to accept.

Greetings from Wimbledon John Farago

-- (John Farago)

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>