There is no doubt that healthy competition can spur the competing actors into greatness; yet can collaboration do the same? Airlines compete ferociously, yet jointly own, operate, and govern an organisation allowing all of us to check in using our frequent flyer cards or to check in to different airlines for different flights all at once (SITA). Mobile phone companies compete for our SIM cards, yet band together to lobby and advocate for standards and change through the GSMA. Competing seems to work in the short term and for short term measures, but significant, long-term, system change appears to require collaboration for everyone wins.
Often within the social sector we struggle to admit we are competing with other social organisations for revenue, for staff, for airtime, etc. Yes, we collaborate in some areas, but how often do we challenge our operating models to think about a more collaborative approach especially around money? Sometimes we do it (e.g. DEC in the UK) but most of the time we don’t as revenue is the most important metric. I like us to explore what type of long term financial gain could be achieve if we actually collaborate – can we ‘raise all boats with the tide’? If positive impact in the lives of those we are trying to help is our goal or a better world for our grandchildren – would we behave differently? Are we too focused on our 12 month or 3-5 year cycles? Are we too focused on our own organisational survival? What happens when we take a longer view, when we pull our heads up and look beyond ourselves? Does anything change?