Symbiosis in LOs LO11245

Dr. Scott J. Simmerman (74170.1061@CompuServe.COM)
03 Dec 96 15:28:51 EST

Ben Compton, in LO11214, said:

>The fact that we share information and knowledge does not ensure our
>competitors will understand how to effectively act on it. Knowledge
>can be a very contextual thing.

And knowledge can also push oneself further, faster: My friend Jimmy
Snyder shared a story with me that I thought might be of interest to the
list. Jimmy runs a bunch of sucessful car dealerships in Jacksonville,
Florida. He's well respected and well-known in the retail automotive

One day, the President of Honda US is in his store and talking with Jimmy
about service quality (something Jimmy has won national awards for in the
past). In this store, the place where the customers pay for their service
visit is located IN the new car showroom.

In most "traditional" dealerships, you put this area FAR from the new cars
because you don't want the potential purchasers to come in contact with
these people, right? Saturn believes that you want satisfied customers
around, that they make a good impression and actually support sales
through their positive comments and candid testimonials. In fact, you
want them to be aware of the new models.

Anyway, the man approaches one of Jimmy's customers and asks her about her
visit. She raves (positively ;-)). He asks her what car she previously
owned and she says, "Honda." Not knowing who he is and probably assuming
he's with Saturn, we suppose, she talks favorably about the Honda but more
positively about the service at Saturn.

She then mentions that the rest of her family all own Saturns (n = 4) and
that they ALL previously owned Honda's. Needless to say, the guy is a bit

Jimmy's learning point was that exposing the competition to what Saturn is
doing is only positive. It's always been a crusade for Jimmy to improve
the way the industry treats customers; Saturn now leads this. Saturn is
also forcing the entire industry to change how it treats customers by
changing the expectation levels and perceived value. In the US, at least,
used cars now often come with fixed retail prices and thus minimal "used
car selling behaviors."

And Jimmy knows that he's already ahead and supported by the factory and
that Honda, in trying to make things better in that organization, will
probably push Saturn to get even better. He believes that it's a positive
collaborative effort that will cause ALL to learn and improve, with
positive impacts on the entire population of car buyers / owners.

I've known this guy for many years -- and it has always been a pleasure to
watch how he operates collaboratively in a competitive world.

BTW, he also gets good ideas from his competitors!

So, I agree with Roxanne in the fact that working with the more paranoid
organizations isn't such a good thing. It's also a primary reason why I
package ALL of my cartoons and games and ideas in a format that other
people can purchase and use.

This adversarial approach, supported by layers of legalese, definately
adds costs to many of our businesses. The old, "Let's find someone to sue
for infringement" has fostered the paranoia and probably doesn't
contribute much to a learning organization philosophy. If you are
interested in other thoughts on this, read Wilson Harrell's comments in
most any Success Magazine about the perils involved in letting the laywers
and accountants run the businesses.

My belief is that we can all benefit by more collaboration, even among
competitive industries such as training and consulting.

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman
Performance Management Company
3 Old Oak Drive, Taylors SC 29687-6624 USA



"Dr. Scott J. Simmerman" <74170.1061@CompuServe.COM>

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