Symbiosis in LOs LO11277

Rol Fessenden (76234.3636@CompuServe.COM)
05 Dec 96 00:40:29 EST

Replying to LO11240 --

Ben and Lon are having a fascinating discussion. Ben writes:

>Here's a simple theory, that I think has merit: An organization should not
>seek to dominate its competitors, but rather make them better. This
>implies some free flow of information/knowledge.

And Lon:

"I couldn't agree more with this theory, but I am concerned that achieving
such a state of equilibrium may not be possible given the norms of human

I sort of agree with Ben, but I wonder if we don't in fact make our
competitors better by seeking to dominate them. The phone system is a
good example. AT&T was broken up and forced into a more competitive
environment. No question about it, we have better phone service as a
consequence. Other countries are considering the same course of action
precisely because their phone systems are lagging behind.

Fed Ex was, in fact, really good for UPS, and perhaps for the US Post
Office. UPS was pretty contented until Fed Ex came along and woke it up.
Fed Ex offered revolutionary services, stirred up the waters, improved all
of our options for communications, and reinvigorated UPS at the same time.

I know where I work, we think having sound competition makes us a better
company. Without solid competition, we would not be searching so hard for
more effective ways to practice customer service.

To Lon's point, achieving a state of equilibrium is probably
counterproductive to improvement. All of the examples above (I could add
the US auto industry in the '70s, as they were soundly chastened by the
Japanese) demonstrate that creating instability and disequilibrium
actually contributed to a richer range of choices and services. Some
American industries were so complacent in their uncompetitive niches, that
when real competition came along, they just didn't have the energy to
fight it, and they withered and died. It didn't have to happen that way,
but it did.


Rol Fessenden
LL Bean, Inc


Rol Fessenden <76234.3636@CompuServe.COM>

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