The competition paradox

Competition as a paradigm has become so universal it has become almost become invisible.

It frames just about every transaction and discussion. Whether it’s BREXIT (winning the right deal) or market share, or sport. It’s vital, to be sure, but it’s not everything.

In the end, it carries a high price, whether in isolated factions (Leavers or Remainers – it seems binary) or “left behind” communities, or failed businesses, or crippled sportspeople.

Nature isn’t binary. There’s a centre ground of healthy organisms tending to one end or the other of a distribution curve – extinction or evolution. There’s a healthy middle (with our help, that distribution curve has become skewed, but it seems nowhere as much as in our society and businesses). When we are dominated by a few large entities, and those entities fail, it makes resilience really difficult.

Roger Martin’s article on efficiency gave me real food for thought. When competition has led to 1% having 99%, where does the 1% go next?

Winners are leaders. and the job of leaders is not to leave others behind, it’s to take them with them.

Competition is a great stimulus, and example, but it has a purpose. It makes a lousy end in itself.

Give winners their due and respect, but expect more from them. We need a healthy middle.

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