Collaborative Advantage

Earlier this year I felt very pleased with myself for having come up with the phrase’ Collaborative Advantage’.  The phrase came to me in the context of conversations about competitive advantage, which I argued was only part of the story, and the weaker part at that.  My theme was (and is) that the most successfully competitive people are not the egoists, but the magnanimous.

I mentioned the idea to several people over the course of about 10 days, developing the idea as I warmed to my theme, thinking myself really rather clever.

Deciding I should write something about Collaborative Advantage, I sat at this machine and googled the phrase, just in case somebody had thought of it before.

Of course they had!  Twelve years ago, Elizabeth Lank wrote ‘Collaborative Advantage – how organisations win together by working together‘ which is pretty good but doesn’t acknowledge Jeffrey Dyer’s ‘Collaborative Advantage – winning through extended supplier networks‘ published in 2000.  But he was a laggard, compared to Siv Vangen and Chris Huxham whose research partnership stems from Chris’ book ‘Creating Collaborative Advantage‘ published in 1996.

All of them were beaten to publication by the rather brilliant Rosabeth Moss Kanter, who placed an article on ‘Collaborative Advantage – the art of alliances’ in the Harvard Business Review back in 1994.

I was thoroughly, comprehensively, utterly, beaten to it.   Worse yet, – Paul Skinner released ‘Collaborative Advantage – how collaboration beats competition as a strategy for successin June this year.

…only of course, it wasn’t worse at all – it was a real joy.

Thinking based in ideas of Collaborative Advantage is an antidote to the polarising effects of ego-centered competitiveness currently tearing politics, businesses and societies apart.   I for one, will do all I can to promote it, because I believe ‘winner takes all’ is a mindset with a built in self-defeating mechanism.

Let me know if you too are warming to the Collaborative Advantage theme – let’s take on The Competition!!