When it comes to crafting your business’ marketing messaging and defining your position in the marketplace, a commonly encountered question is: “What is the ‘competitive advantage’ of your company?”
The traditional definition of “competitive advantage” is the way a company distinguishes itself by keeping an upperhand over other companies who offer similar products and services. It’s all about “survival of the fittest.”
Reverend Suzi Schadle from the Center for Spiritual Living Eastside in Bellevue, Washington (www.csle.org), once shared this direct experience of hers from when she was leading a workshop in a school.
She was working with kids from the ages of 5-6. She wanted to teach them to work as a team.
She split the students into smaller groups of several children. The exercise she gave them was to take a raw egg and then, using the supplies that were passed out, they were to build a container for the egg so that it could be dropped from a height of 6 feet without breaking the egg. No further instructions were given.
She noticed that, unprompted, children from different groups began helping each other out, sharing supplies and trading ideas between the different groups. Some of them even went to the back table to get more supplies (no instructions were given that said they couldn’t do that).
Some of the older students were intrigued by this exercise as they passed by. So, in the end, the middle school and high school students go involved in the project as well.
But what Reverend Suzi noticed was interesting:
- Among the middle school-aged students, there was no sharing of supplies and ideas between different groups.
- With the high school-aged students, not only was there no sharing, but there was also stealing of supplies between the different groups! And the energy level was one of more tension and competitiveness.
Much to Rev. Suzi’s chagrin, the preschoolers decided they wanted to drop their eggs from the second floor. So, she started praying!
This is what happened when the eggs were dropped by the various grades from the second floor:
- High schoolers: All eggs dropped, all eggs broken.
- Middle schoolers: All eggs dropped, all eggs broken.
- Pre-schoolers: All eggs dropped, all eggs survived intact!
(Even from the second floor, which was not the original intent of the exercise.)
Consider what might be possible when we learn again what unbridled collaboration, free of the limitations of competition, might lead to as we emerge from a down economy!!!
As entrepreneurs, what might be possible if we took this lesson to heart and integrated this into daily business practices? Then, instead of a “competitive advantage,” we’d be focused on showcasing our “collaborative advantage.”
“Great power lies not in the mind and will of one man,
but in the collective consciousness of the many.”