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Competition vs Collaboration

by | Mar 28, 2024 | Business

Competition vs Collaboration: A Mastery Perspective

In many aspects of life and business, the concepts of competition and collaboration are frequently thrown into the ring as opposing forces. However, a deeper understanding of these dynamics unveils that they are not only interconnected but also mutually beneficial. When I look through the lens of Mastery I see some different perspectives too.


Firstly, collaboration involves creating synergies with other entities to achieve common goals. However, this has to occur between equals; otherwise, imbalances can lead to exploitation by the stronger party. A master of their area working with a practitioner will eitehr become frustrated by their lack of experience and insight, or they will migrate to a master/trainee relatoinship. and that’s not a good collaboration. It’s cooperation at best. (Have you noticed how often people say they are collaborating when in reality they are only cooperating – supporting each other to achieve individual goals). But when two people, or businesses, who are equally masters of their respective specialism come together something special happens.

A good example of this is the partnership between Apple and Microsoft in the late 90s. Despite being fierce competitors in the personal computing market, they also understood the need for collaboration. Microsoft invested $150 million in Apple, and both companies agreed to share software. This collaboration saved Apple from bankruptcy and allowed Microsoft to retain its competitive edge.


However, collaboration is not the antithesis of competition. When there is collaboration without competition there are cartels, nothing could be more damaging to business improvement. Withut competition the forces to improve disappear. Competition promotes innovation and drives organisations to improve their offerings, drives productivity, and motivates change. It sharpens our products and processes, as others will outperform us if we do not innovate. Returning to Apple and Microsoft we can see how their long running competitive approaches resulted in the continuous innovation of personal computers, benefiting consumers worldwide. There’s more to it than that though. At the heart of the development of both companies has been the realisation of insights. Different insights from each company, one focussing more on user, the other more on functionality. This is the hallmark of mastery, insights gained at the leading edge of expertise leading, in the detail, to difference.

Both together.

The greater strength tends to be at the intersection of both. Competition is not a barrier to collaboration, it can be, in the masters environment a catalyst for it. Collaboration brings diverse perspectives, fostering the insights that can lead to competitive advantage, but competition provides the necessity and the driver to seek and find the insights that are needed. Take, for instance, the Human Genome Project. This collaborative effort between various research institutions worldwide led to the successful mapping of the human genome, a landmark achievement in the field of genetics. a collaboration thousands of geneticists who, for example, were often seeking funding in competition with others.


It is crucial to understand the importance of both competition and collaboration in fostering innovation and progress. Embracing both will lead to fairer markets and groundbreaking solutions. Neither competition nor collaboration is superior; they are simply different facets of business mastery; both should be welcomed.


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Written by: William Buist - all rights reserved.