Competition over collaboration. If you live in the Seattle area, you probably know someone who works, or has worked, at Amazon. And, you’ve probably heard stories of the hyper-competitive nature of their workplace. So, around here, although the spectacle of the New York Times’ article from a while back created a big buzz elsewhere, its contents to locals may not have been such a surprise.
No offense to Amazon. By all accounts, they are supremely successful – and, I am an avid Prime user. But countless other studies and profitable companies have shown that collaboration can have equally effective results – and feed the human social compact at the same time. Average people, working together, helping one another, to foster new ideas, inventions and promote growth can ultimately make our lives better.
Margaret Heffernan, in a recent TED Talk, points to a Purdue University professor who was studying productivity. He formed two groups of hens – one of collectively average layers, the other a set of “superchickens” who had a track record of higher egg-producing productivity. The finding? The average group thrived while the super group disintegrated, literally pecking each other to death. Ms. Heffernan went on to cite other case studies of human collaboration that point to the value of a culture of helpfulness. “Helpfulness means I don't have to know everything, I just have to work among people who are good at getting and giving help.”
One industry that appears to be embracing this collectiveism, according to a recent article, “Don’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em,” by Entrepreneur, is craft breweries. These master craftsmen are finding that the best way to compete for shelf space with behemoths like Anheuser Busch is to work together. Personal case study: John Robertson, a founder of the Bellevue Brewing Company, is a friend of mine and an advocate for craft brewers everywhere. Their local establishment not only features their own brand of suds, they pour competitors’ brews as well, as a way of promoting the industry as a whole. And, it’s working. While overall beer sales were flat in 2014, craft beers grew 22%. Collaboration is generating success.
Just think if all of us average people, with our own collective experiences, promoted a culture of helpfulness. Sharing what we know. Making life better. Margaret Heffernan appears to agree, “…we won't solve our problems if we expect it to be solved by a few supermen or superwomen. Now we need everybody, because it is only when we accept that everybody has value that we will liberate the energy and imagination and momentum we need to create the best beyond measure.”
Wendy Peloquin is Chief Creative Officer of Pixie Fish Marketing. She has 25+ years experience weaving creativity with common sense to craft memorable messages and successful marketing strategies.
For my clients, I'm a storyteller, cheerleader, push-you-out-of-your-comfort-zone type of marketing consultant. Hopefully I can inspire you too.