Competitive Collaboration Part 2 – What is competitive collaboration?

harvard_collaborationYesterday I posted about how Competitive Collaboration would save the world, today’s post is about what is Competitive Collaboration and monday is about the how do we enable it. So what is Competitive Collaboration?

Competitive Collaboration between companies is still in it’s very early infancy, maybe early pregnancy. But it has been the topic of enhancing internal collaboration within businesses for a while now. The articles and research are focused at engendering and promoting collaboration of employees through harnessing the competitive nature of employees within a business. I believe there are many similarities and analogies for companies.

One of the better articles on Competitive Collaboration within companies that I have found was at CloudAVe

The author starts by setting the scene “At a conceptual level, there are two modes of engagement by participants in a community: collaboration and competition. Communities can be designed to elicit either of these behaviors, depending on the desired outcome. Care has to be taken, though, because a mismatch between desired outcomes and engagement modes will undermine the effort.”

Whether that’s a community of employees in a company or a community of companies within a market, the same is true. Maybe a big stretch but perhaps the two dominant political parties in Australia drive either but not often both – labour driving collaboration and liberal driving competition. Some of the first initiative being put into place by the Abbott government maybe testament to this – incentivising SME’s  to increase competition. So we are unlikely to see Competitive Collaboration being driven by either government as they survive off their partisan relationships.

Back to the what.

The author continues to talk about the motivation of employees in a business “The #1 source of competitive motivation for employees will be the desire to see their company do well in the market. But recognize that employees are human, and there will be natural human tendencies toward individual and team competition. An organization can spend time trying to dampen those human characteristics, or it can integrate them into its collaborative process.”

Again, there are some great analogies to companies rather than employees.

The key principles to Competitive Collaboration inside a company are:

Channel the competitive energies of employees toward an ethos of helping one another. Three design principles are required for this:

  • Enable the provision and visibility of feedback
  • Recognize those who do it well
  • Provide tangible incentives for collaborative behavior”

The author concludes that “Competition is a valuable human behavior. It is a great motivator, and the basis for many accomplishments in our history. Rather than ignore this dynamic and expect purely altruistic motives, organizations are wise to work with it. Channel the competitive energies toward collaborative behaviors that drive innovation. Employees are still competing. But they’re competing in a direction that aligns with the company’s objectives.”

So I believe that we can adopt these thoughts, processes and designs for competitive collaboration within companies to competitive collaboration between companies – if we have an aligned ‘objective’ and well that one is pretty obviously really – living within the means of one planet.


Competitive Collaboration between companies can be described as companies channeling their competitive energy towards a common goal of achieving the objectives of living within the means of one planet.

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