Archive for the ‘cooperation’ Tag


Sig at the thingamy blog talked the other day about organizations concentrating too hard on the latest utility software while delaying imperatives to grow and truly innovate.  It’s as if you were to concentrate on the best toilets, he says, which also are necessary for your smooth operations, but hardly central to progress.  Sig says, “What they need is a tool that allows and strengthens the ability to combine and recombine. That’s what they should focus on. “

This is tied, in my mind, with the gradual dissolution of competition as a force in global economy, as it is being replaced by cooperation.  Coming out on top of the pile loses its attraction when it’s realized that the pile could be dead bodies.  Today’s challenges are about use of natural resources, overpopulation, and terrorism.  In the world of commerce, the question today is: How can I best fit my talents with the needs of the world?  The question used to be: How can I get more than my fair share?  These two queries may as well exist on separate planets.

But it is an exceedingly difficult transition to make, and it seems that only a very few understand it.  I did some writing recently for a large organization, filling it with optimism and a cooperative spirit, and it was edited by the client to be the statement of competitive force that habitually shores up his confidence.  And that no one is likely to read with any enthusiasm or hope.

One can rail and preach, but it’s rather pointless.  The truth will assert itself and hardly needs assistance.  In all our endeavors, we are now challenged to ‘combine and recombine’ for our very lives.  Any effort that sets me ahead of others is an illusion:  it is only when I’m able to set others ahead that I’m actually progressing.


This door represents the specificity of one business.  Note that there are doors everywhere, and they tend generally not to compete with one another.  But the opening of one often leads to the opening of another.  And note the tremendous personality one door can have.  Note how much one glance at it can tell you.  Note not only the visual experience, but the emotional one.  You get a feeling from this door, as well as factual info. 

There are millions of doors, but none exactly like this one.  This one services a few people, and they are grateful.  It does its job, it prospers. 

Can your business be so specifically and personally described?  Is it known and loved the way this door seems to be?  Does it have a well cultivated, useful, proud personality that is not afraid or suspicious regarding other businesses, but serves its own purposes faithfully?

Specificity in business

There’s an old fashioned notion still strongly prevalent in small business circles, one that works against success in today’s economy. But people cling to it like a right and priviledge of which they’re proud. And the issue relates directly to all my previous blather about specificity.

Newly established as a small business, and needing to make my presence and services known, I joined a couple business networking/referral groups. It’s been useful and fun so far, and I’m happy to contribute. But there’s a dyed-in-the-wool rule these networking groups abide by that deeply turns me off: no two businesses of the same type can be members simultaneously. So the group has one realtor, for example, and all others in town are barred. The thinking is that in referring business to one another, there will be no conflicts.

It used to be that one realtor in town could cover the needs, and if another set up practice, that meant dividing the spoils. But any aware person nowadays knows no one organization can answer the needs of our mushrooming population. There is plenty of room for the energies and innovations of all of us, and the more we open up channels of communications, the better off we all are.

A small business distinguishes itself through specificity. An individual business becomes successful through careful identification and cultivation of individual strengths, always unique, always useful in some way, to some people. Realtor A is not inherently better than Realtor B. If they have both precisely identified and defined the specifics of their services, they’ll each find more-than-sufficient markets. And in the meantime, they can help one another to self-define, if only they’ll open up communications!

I would love it if other virtual assistants were in my networking groups. I prefer to see other people in my field as friends, not competitors. In a global economy, competition retards growth, while cooperation makes clear the specific offerings of each.

So far, however, I see no cracks in their armor, and raising this issue with the groups to which I belong is not likely to happen anytime soon. The pride and paranoia are impenetrable! But I’ll chip away behind the scenes, perhaps, because change is inevitable eventually.