Collaborating with your competitors

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Last week saw Donald Trump once again attempt to rile North Korean leader Kim Jong Un via Twitter. Writing “I too have a nuclear button, but it is a much bigger and more powerful one than his, and my button works”, Trumps comments were a childish nod to comments of “my dad is harder than yours” or “my car is faster than yours” or… worse. Whilst the comments were a source of jokes amongst the media, Trumps competitive affronts did raise significant questions in regards to business, most predominantly; should we be merely competing with those in our industry, or is it time competition turned into cooperation?

In 1996 Adam Brandenburger and Barry Nalebuff popularized the term ‘Coopetition’, the idea of businesses both competing and collaborating in different areas simultaneously. Creating “the game theory strategy that’s changing the face of business”, the two authors hailed from Harvard and Yale individually, their own collaboration an example of the term they’d worked together to define.

A movement away from the ‘winner takes it all’ business model, you’re more likely to observe coopetition with regards to small businesses than large, however it’s not completely unheard of. In 2006 fierce rivals Sony and Samsung pulled off one of the most successful joint ventures in technology history. Working together to produce LCD screens for flat-screen TV’s, the electronics company’s collaboration yielded two new products; Bravia for Sony and Bordeaux for Samsung, more than doubling their combined market shares.

More recently automobile giants Toyota, Ford and Suzuki pooled their resources in an attempt to create in-vehicle telematics that would keep up with those being developed at Apple and Google. Avoiding the astronomical cost that often comes with game-changing technology, the companies, whose rivalry is clear, have recognized the benefits of joining together for this singular venture.

These partnerships and the need for shared ethical accountability have seen a rise in business-led corporate responsibility coalitions, like Business in the Community, in which businesses act together on issues such as homelessness and employability. Establishing a strong link between company’s over a shared cause allows business to feel less like a competition, giving rise to shared mentor schemes and future collaborations.

My London Works, a movement that aims to modernize the workplace, focuses not just on enhancing our own brand but highlighting the benefits of other London company’s. Attempting to change the way in which businesses show appreciation for their employees, members don’t just hoard their good ideas to themselves but rather encourage others to follow suit. This promotion has obvious advantages to those being showcased, however less apparent is the benefits to My London Works itself.

Companies which commit to sharing knowledge and experience with others are leading the way for a work environment that pools resources and opens doors for one another. By stepping into another office in order to improve their business model you open yourselves up to further collaboration when you’re the ones in need. And most importantly if the industry as a whole looks good, so will your individual business.