What JK Rowling Has Taught Us About Competition

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Marking the 20th anniversary of the Harry Potter Universe’s inception, we’re taking a look at something JK Rowling taught us a long time ago. With the Triwizard Tournament promoting intermagical co-operation, her indication was that a little competition between rivals can be a force for connection rather than fracture. Joining the three schools through a shared experience, we as businesses can be taking a leaf out of Rowling’s incredibly successful book.

A little friendly competition in which companies can get out their frustrations on the tennis court or at a pub quiz, is better than unnecessary backstabbing and the potential for lawsuits. Similarly, focusing upon one brand in a negative manner, has been the downfall of businesses in the past. With rumours that Uber had been purposefully poaching Lyfts drivers adding to the backlash against the ride-hailing company, whilst Coke and Pepsi became so obsessed with each other that they were actually overtaken in energy drink sales by outsider, Red Bull.

Interacting instead with other companies in a competitive but entertaining manner can actually build bridges rather than break them, and whilst there’s always award season giving us the chance to mingle with our competition, we make more meaningful connections when the group is slimmed down a little. Inspired by the changing London workplace, our aim to raise a little money for charity, whilst offering employees a healthy activity, had another surprising result, this month at the Goodman Masson DiamondTri. Opened to the public as well as our own competitors, the Triathlon brought clients and competitors together in an event that inspired more cheers than taunts.

In 2009, Puma and Adidas saw the real fruition of these efforts when 60 years of rivalry (so strong that like Romeo and Juliet, opposing employees in relationships were subject to backlash) came to a head over a ‘peace match’ between the two sibling shoemakers. Splitting their business in half, the two brothers had moved their factories onto opposite sides of town, with the river between them not being their only obstacle. Although reportedly not speaking to each other for the rest of their lives, rumours have abounded that this was partially, at least at the ends of their lives, a publicity ploy. Whether malicious or malignant however, the conflict affected the two companies so strongly that even after the two fashion giants had been out of the brother’s hands for years, the football match was met with initial apprehension. The match however, as part of the Peace One Day movement, came a long way to mend the relations of the town of ‘bent necks’, a term applied to residents who would “look down at a person’s shoes before deciding to talk to them”.

Rather than competing for one another’s customers, we can actually be sharing our success, a concept we looked at within our article ‘Buddying up’, which you can read here. So next time a little rivalry is on the cards, why not try inviting your counterparts to a laser quest tournament. You never know it could add a little bit of magic to your business.