Healthy views on competition and collaboration

Posted on October 13, 2010

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Steve Buttry, Director of Community Engagement for TBD, offers up some great “thoughts on competition and collaboration” in a recent post about Patch, the AOL series of local news sites that some bloggers are worried will cost them web traffic. Buttry writes:

“I don’t know that Patch being in your community is necessarily a bad thing because I don’t see the news business as a zero-sum game. In the same way that competing stores in a mall or a historic shopping district actually benefit from each other’s presence because together they attract more business, a more robust news and advertising ecosystem in your community might be better for everyone.”

When I read this, it reminded me of some quotes by Tom Meyer, executive vice president of Clyde’s Restaurant Group, and Seth Hurwitz, owner of the 9:30 Club, that appear in a recent Washington Post article by Chris Richards. The article, on a new DC music venue being opened by Clyde’s, states that Meyer would be “entering a very competitive market”. But Meyer says:

“The only people who say [the Washington area] is becoming crowded with nightclubs are the people who own nightclubs. Whenever I build a restaurant, people ask me, ‘Who do you want as your neighbor?’ . . . The best thing for me is another really good restaurant. . . . It keeps me on my toes.”

Hurwitz says something similar:

“The more clubs there are helping bands develop, the better it is for the music business, of which we are obviously a part.”

This all brings to mind—particularly Buttry’s blog post—Stephen Covey’s abundance mentality, described in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People as “the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.”

It would be naive to think business is entirely peace, love and abundance mentality. News organizations, music venues and other businesses will obviously compete with one another. Buttry does not deny this in his post on Patch and shares multiple bullets on how sites can compete. There have also been and will no doubt be more occasions when, for example, one music venue will win the bidding to book a certain artist over another venue.

But it’s refreshing to see people talking about the benefits of having other players in your marketplace, and not viewing it as simply just a threat. The total profits can often be greater when companies maintain a healthy view of competition or remain open to collaboration, rather than simply seeing things as a race for limited quantities of viewers, concert-goers or cash.

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