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Friday, February 26, 2010
Is it possible to be in an authentic relationship with a competitor? What are the risks? What are the rewards?
There are examples aplenty of trade groups and professional associations where folks that compete in the marketplace band together for the benefit of all... but these do not have authenticity as the target. My experience in these groups is a high degree of protection over our dirty laundry.
So, I'm listening to a friend talk about his group of CEO's that are all in the same business, they are similarly sized, and they have some level of "geographic boundary" but are still competing for the same customer. And, they've formed a group with the stated desire of "coopetition"... that is, to compete cooperatively. They have agreed upon norms around expected behaviors. Confidentiality is key. Not raiding each others' employees is part of their agreement. They are openly sharing business and life issues and there is a synergy occuring between their various strengths and skills. It seems to be working for the benefit of all in that there is tremendous growth occuring in their respective businesses.
It made me curious. Am I just living in an old paradigm by thinking this is unusual? What do you think? How does this kind of competitive-cooperative thinking show up in your world?