The dominant collective culture in most parts of the world today is a star culture in which “the winner takes it all; the loser has to fall” (Abba). In today’s economic world business leaders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, brokers, financiers etc, are typically regarded as some kind of star, even though the accomplishment and profit of any organisation or business is obviously created by everybody engaged in it. Yet this is easily forgotten in a world that still holds on to the industrial age’s basic story of the machine — the organisation as a machine sees people as wheels and cogs which can be easily exchanged, as human resource. So only the star-wheels in the top of the business (or in politics, media or almost any organisation) are seen and honoured.
Promoting a business leader as a star may produce a momentary marketing and monetary advantage, but in the long run collaboration creates a much greater and most of all a sustainable business value. And what is more the collaboration we are indicating here produces true value, beyond monetization and mere measurement, it produces social coherence and community: collaboration harnesses collective intelligence and produces wealth in every respect. Contrary to the myths our star culture perpetuate, people working in collaboration not only achieve far greater and sustainable successes than individuals, even if we narrow down the meaning of success to be solely economic, but they also master the fundamental challenge of exponentially growing diversity and complexity.
It is often said that we can only grow through maximum competition and it could seem that my view of a collaborative culture would therefore oppose competition and star culture, but this is not so. Collaboration just surpasses competition in every respect except ego-gratification. It is a major step beyond egotism, nepotism, feudalism and any vertical leadership structure, not to mention bureaucracy and adolescent’s games. All of these are rooted in pyramidal systems where the many carry and enrich those on the next, narrower level and compete to become one of them. But the competitive star-culture, which by the way cannot but privatize profit and gain and socialise losses and waste — the dreadful state of our common environment is a dreadful example of this inevitable consequence of that culture — cannot create true common wealth and it cannot rise to the challenges we face globally and locally everywhere on this planet.
Recently a new term has come to my notice: ‘collapetition’ combining the words collaboration and competition in an attempt to go beyond the antagonism that seems to reside in these two terms. But what is expressing itself here is already incorporated in the view on collaboration as I regard it since collaboration doesn’t mean that all participating partners in it refrain from jostling and struggling for best possible procedures, processes, practises and solutions to the challenges we are facing. When collaborations are formed there always are deliberations, discussions, dialogues and sometimes passionate communication until understanding, vision and purpose is achieved in mutual understanding.
Collaboration incorporates non-exclusionary competition on all level and in all stages: In any inquiring, deliberating and deciding process many views or propositions are inspected and compete with other views. Likewise individuals and teams/groups with a collaborative endeavour can, and often do, pursue diverse lines or processes to add value to the overall effort.