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would have made Blackadder himself blush, of teams of tough coal miners engaged in daring raids and sabotage missions. The aim of these missions was primarily to liberate coal from another team’s pile to boost their own, making themselves appear much more productive and bringing their team targets within close reach. It makes you proud to be British, doesn’t it? But for the owners of the coal mine all of this rapacious effort was completely unproductive, no matter how entertaining it was for the guys in question. It’s important to note that the miners weren’t to blame for this counter-productive behaviour. They were just doing what human beings do exceptionally well: exploiting the rules of the game to win.


The hard question is how to use competition in such a way that everybody wins. I wager that very few managers ever ask themselves, ‘How can we use competition to our advantage, and not to our detriment?’ I am not saying competition per se is bad; it creates a challenge, which is a great stimulus for action. What really matters is the context of who you are competing against. The miners showed us that internal competition doesn’t work. But if it is from outside, and causes a group to


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collaborate more effectively, then competition can lead to superior results. It is this greater collaboration in the face of external competition that produces the superior performance, not the competition in and of itself.


To what extent do the departments, suppliers and customers connected with your organisation collaborate? Are you being forced to compete with others


Don’t even think about it...


inside your company, or do you perhaps create systems that force your subordinates to compete? If this is the case I would urge you to consider the full cause and effect of what you have established, and the destructive consequences of the game you have created. It is through collaboration that man’s greatest achievements have been attained.


BF


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