Saturday, January 12, 2008

Coopetition (1/4/2008)

The SDM 08 cohort participated in a team building exercise today (1/4/2008). We were divided into our DC1 teams and did various exercises to learn about each other and to collectively perform tasks. The entire event is way too long in my opinion, but I did learn some key concepts. One thing stood out is Coopetition, or cooperative competition.

How do teams cooperate while competing against each other? How do companies share knowledge while trying to come out on top? How do counties help each other while seeking the competitive edge? Everyone thinks that they must keep a secret in order to be successfully. But Southwest Airline doesn’t have a secret. Nordstrom doesn’t have a secret. Instead of making earth-shattering breakthroughs, most leading companies beat their competitors by improving something every company already know or possess. Low price, customer service, corporation culture have been around for hundreds of years, nothing is secret here. Yet what can be shared and what must be locked up in a valet. If Coke releases their classic formula tomorrow, their market share is likely going to slide. But there is no reason that they can’t share their 100+ years of research experiences. They can even send chemists to help other companies develop their formulas, because teaching is learning. You can share your strategy because it probably works only for you. You can share your ideas because others might already researched it and can give you a pointer. This is one of those “no correct answer” question and different situation calls for different measurements. But the concept struck me and I will certainly seek ways for Coopetition in DC1 and beyond.

Another topic that bounded with me is about team development and group dynamics. We learned about Tuckman’s 4 stages of group development, which are forming, storming, norming and performing. I later found out Tuckman added a fifth stage, adjourning. My question was “Does every team go through a ‘storming’ stage in order to reach the performing stage?” But I looked back into my past and couldn’t remember any teams I have been involved with don’t have a period when members are fighting for leadership and pushing for their ideas. I also think Storming, Norming, and Performing is iterative cycle and teams can ended up in Performing (happy ending) or Storming (sad ending)

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