Co-opetition - Helping bring out the best in you

Video Transcription

The idea today uh is to talk about coition and it comes from um you know, this, this idea that I'd like to introduce to you before that, I'll go into a story. Um Alex Beth and Kathy are three high schoolers in Fremont High School Bay area. OK.The three have been in the same schools throughout their academic journeys. All three are extremely talented, straight a students and work really hard to excel at everything they do. Now of this, Beth is an eloquent speaker and has won every debate and oratory competition, Alex while being good has always ended up coming second in these oratory competitions. Now, throughout her school life, she has competed closely with Beth but has never managed to secure the first place.

What this has done is it has created an unwanted animosity and jealousy in Alex's um in, in her mind and uh against Alex which spills over into other fields where she is looking to outsmart, beat or put down Alex. Now, Cathy, on the other hand, isn't as good as Alex or beck at oratory skills and at best ends up winning a second runner up or uh a consolation prize or a rising star in most competitions. However, Cathy has a different approach to these competitions. She talks to both Alex and Beth to learn how they prepare their tricks and feedback for her. She believes that she can learn from both of them and constantly works on becoming the best version of herself. Now, all three of them end up graduating with honors and going to different undergrad schools, they now find themselves in a different world with a completely different set of people. Alex now loses her top orator spot to someone else in the class and tries to deal with that whole new reality. Beck now finds more competitors and sinks into depression at losing her only mode. You know what she believed that. Yeah, I'm good. I'm just, you know, next to Alex Kathy also finds new folks who are better than her, but she continues to be happy and thrives by collaborating with people better than her and constantly improving her skills.

So what happened here, Alex and Beth were both better than Cathy at school, but when faced with a different challenge, the skills they learned did not suffice. Beth was so focused on, you know, competing with Alex that she forgot to learn and enjoy Alex. On the other hand, was so focused on winning that she did not focus on improving her strength and learning, learning um additional skill sets from others. After three, Kathy was focused on continuous improvement, which serve her well in both the worlds in school and I in, in undergrad school. And in the above example, we focused on a single dimension of oratory skills. What would happen if each of the, each of them imbibed Cathy's philosophy and cooperated to learn while competing in arts, sports, music, dance and all other facets that you know, they do in school. Each one of them would strive to learn from each other from others and become the best version of themselves and raise the bar for the class and for themselves. Hello, I am Shria Naar and I work as a director of product management at Qualcomm where I work with uh enterprise providers to align their connectivity needs with Qualcomm's prolific wireless portfolio. Today, I'm really excited to talk about this idea of co op petition with all of you.

The idea of coop petition comes from two words, cooper, operation and competition, cooper operation and competition together combine to form coition. Now, competition is a strategy in business in which competition and cooper operation are combined in a way that harnesses the benefits of each in a way.

It is a it is when two businesses in the same industry work together on something that is not their core competency or where they can, you know, collaborate to get better. Specifically competition is when two companies that are known to be competitors, collaborate with each other with the expectation of mutual benefits. The idea of competition is not new. It's been, it's been there for a long time in the business world. It was introduced by two professors Adam branded Burger and Barry NG in the early nineties. Now, in business competition is a model that draws insight from game theory in which competitors in a game form an alliance to achieve the same purpose. Competition models involve the use of statistics that map out shares and losses in word in an alliance. Now, business really historically has been viewed as a zero sum game where um you know, one loses, one wins and between competitors. So one had to lose for the other to win. Competition strategies have paved a new way for businesses to work together to deliver the highest value to create a win, win game. So here are a couple of famous examples. You may not even have thought about them, you think of them as rivals, but here is how they have coite. Ok. The first example, Samsung and Apple can you imagine?

Now, Samsung had a decision to make whether they wanted to sell Apple, their newest super retina edge to edge OLED screen for the iphone X. They could temporarily have heard Apple in the high end smartphone market because um you know, that's where Samsung Galaxy and iphone compete by not supplying its industry leading screen, but Apple isn't the only rival. Samsung has to worry about. In addition to being one of the largest phone manufacturers Samsung also is one of the largest suppliers to phone manufacturers including Apple. If it hadn't provided the super retina display, someone else would have strengthening um Samsung's competitors in in that way. And Apple is very well known for helping its suppliers to improve their quality. So, cooperating with Apple meant that Samsung would get this benefit and share at that its extreme technology competitors would not. So it takes two to cooper. Remember now, let's look at the deal from Apple's perspective. Would it make Samsung a more formidable rival? It probably would in the year prior to the iphone X launch revenue from Apple almost accounted for 30% of the Samsung display business. But for Apple getting the best screen in the business was well worth it. The underlying economic reason that working together was advantageous to both was that Samsung had the best screen and Apple had a loyal customer base without cooperating.

Neither company could get the extra value from, you know, getting the best to the customers and putting the superior screen on the iphone. Another example is that of Amazon. Now, Amazon as you know, invites third party sellers to its marketplace. Amazon gives rival sellers on Amazon marketplace access to its customers and warehouse, why they could they could have just, you know, kept it to themselves right? For starters while it loses some direct business and the associated market, it makes a commission on marketplace sales, the net effect on profit depends on the commission compared with the market. And whether Amazon marketplace leads to an increase in total volume. More important though Amazon shares its, when Amazon shares its platform, it becomes a hub, the starting place for any search, think of the amount of data Amazon has. When you go to a search on Amazon, when a person, you know, like you and I are looking for a computer or a book or anything else, you know, home, home goods, uh whatever we go and purchase, the more we purchase, the more of a high margin purchases, we do, the more of uh consumer behavior it gets.

So it just works. It's a win, win for Amazon. And finally opening up Amazon marketplace allows Amazon to operate more warehouses and increase shipping volume, thereby reducing shipping times and lowering overall costs for its customers. Ok. So you may be wondering by now you understand coition and how it applies to business and life really? But how does it correlate with our careers? Well, here is the problem. If you see these pictures, whether it's academics, sports, arts, business work or any other field, we are ingrained with this belief since our childhood, that life is a zero sum game, you win and others lose or others win and you lose. In game theory. This can be best model by prisoners dilemma and this is how prisoners dilemma works in case you know, some of you are not familiar with, for those who are familiar, let's just go ahead and revise the concept. So imagine uh we have two, you know, people, person, A and person B so person A is arrested by police for robbing a bank. Now they also arrest another person b for the same crime. Each of them is integrated uh in, integrated, independently in different rooms and unable to communicate with one another. In the interrogation room. The police say we've caught your accomplice. You guys are in trouble. You should confess now to make your sentence easier.

And then they explain the pos possible sentences as you can see here. OK? So if both of you and the other person, so if both you and the other person confess, you each get three years in prison, which is this box here. OK? Both A confesses. B confesses. If neither of you confesses, you each get one year in prison. OK? Which is huge if you confess and the other person doesn't you go free and the other spends five years in prison. You know, one of these two boxes. Now, here's what happens, you know. Um So here's what you have to consider. Suppose you are a, if the other person confesses, you will get three years. If so you will get, if the other person confesses you, if you confess in five years, if you don't, so you can think of it this way. Now, you know what will be a s what is A's best strategy? OK. What is A's best strategy? If, if B confesses what's best for you, OK. If, if B confesses, this is the most optimal strategy and if we stay silent, which is what works best for you, right? So that is what you need to consider. And similarly, you do the same for be. So it makes sense and you look at this game, it makes sense for both to confess. But assume that the other person doesn't confess, then you'll get one year if you don't confess and go free. If you confess again here, it makes sense to confess.

It seems that no matter what the other person does, you're better off confessing. OK? So what, you know, irrespective of the other person's behavior, you see that in this, you know, we result in a we result in a suboptimal outcome where it says both are better off confessing and the same logic is that true for the other person, the rational outcome to this game is always for both parties to confess.

Now, as we can see, this is a sub optimal solution considering, you know, you can clearly see the best outcome, you know, out of these is of course, this one, as you can see for both, then you look at it both together. But when you look, when you look at both confessions, you're talking about both serving three years. So here's the, here's the dilemma if both parties confess. Each spends three years in prison. If neither confesses, each gets only one year in prison. Although they're better off cooperating with each other, individual incentives encourage them to confess and this will lead them, this will lead to a fighter imprisonment for each of them, which as you can see is the worst possible outcome. You can go read up about this. I know this can be complex if you've not seen this, But you know, you can go read up about this and that's why what it leads to. We are all trained to think like this that you know, you win, I lose. And you will see as a result of this, we are all stuck here at our local Maximus as I call it, which means we could have been here together as a society as individuals. But because we work on the suboptimal outcomes as we showed you in that two dimensional game, we are, we are a society that's stuck at our global, at our local maximum, oblivious to what a global Maxima could look like.

Now throughout our formative years, we are taught to be competitive, be a winner and we bring that same mindset to our workplace, to our careers in our workplaces, promotions, bonuses or lucrative projects seem finite in number and to bring out our competitive side. Now, I personally witnessed this when I first joined the workforce, our team was a newly formed team. When most folks had joined around the same time when we started out, there was, you know, a lot of camaraderie and b who in the team where everyone helped one another, they, that, you know, we kind of demonstrated um things as a team work together and we all grew in our work together, then came along the first performance review and suddenly there was a shift in attitudes.

People started becoming keen on demonstrating their individual brilliance is stopped sharing information and conflicts and you know, cutting each other kind of group. I'm sure many of you may have seen this playing out in your teens, you know, different points in time or at some point in time, this slowly sets a culture of walls and a lack of sharing. Everyone creates their boundaries and focuses on growing their skills, their work and their teams as leads without partnering with others. I imagine this world where we focused on coition instead of simply co competing, just just imagine where could we be while work project and life goes on.

Um you know, with a certain desired result, what we miss out on as individuals, teams and businesses or as a society is the massive opportunity where a fixed pie could have grown to a larger pie with revolutionary ideas stemming from an exchange of expertise, resulting in exponential growth for individuals, team and the business.

Now on my team, I drove this cycle by initiating a series of expert talks where I invited individuals with expertise to come and share their ideas with the entire team. Well, it was not easy and I definitely had to rally and influence leaders to get this initiative going. But once I did this, you know, the benefits were multifold individuals when elevated and highlighted as speakers wanted to give and share their best, they offered themselves as points of contact if folks had any questions in the respective areas. Now, this helped folks who were previously hesitant to exchange information. Now, brainstorm ideas, the result, numerous patents, new projects and high visibility for the larger team within the organization and individual growth. At the same time, I realize this concept of competition much later while studying game theory in the business world and like most other concepts in business, it directly applies to how you can make the best of your careers. Here are some direct actions you can take to call Pete and help bring out the best in you and your teams share your work and wisdom. I know many entrepreneurs, coders and late creators who believe um you know, that feedback helps them become the best version of themselves and deliver the best. In my case.

I started doing with my presentations, you know, I I work on the product management side of you to make a lot of uh presentations. So I run it by a small audience of peers and uh get feedback before I go and make an eventual presentation. It's hard, it doesn't, it's not easy, you know, when you're hearing feedback and I trading, but it has definitely helped me improve the quality of my work. So get feedback, share your work, you know, give others feedback and you know, that's how you can copy together with your peers. The second one, acknowledge, appreciate and elevate. Now remember, it's easier to appreciate people that are higher than you like, you know, senior.

It a little difficult to appreciate people who are junior but hardest to appreciate peers. Now, one you know, take away one, let me give you one challenge. Identify three peers who you believe have skills, you can learn and compliment them and ask them if they can teach you set up meetings. It's OK to set up boundaries initially or practice. If you know, sharing does not come naturally to you and you'll get better at it, see how you can share your learnings and create something bigger to grow the pie. OK? And finally make win, win. A KPI. I learned this pretty recently for managers leading teams. How do you inculcate core petitions successfully in your teams? A recent, a friend of mine recently shared his experience of how he helped, you know, kind of initiate it is in a very large organization. When he initiated, uh when he initially took on uh a nascent team, he realized that everyone was working to highlight their individual brilliance at the cost of you know, interrupting or putting others down. It was just, you know, stalling work at times, all techniques including 360 feedback did not work. Eventually, each member of the team had a direct goal listed down. Their success would be measured by the success of their direct stakeholders and peers.

This brought about a stark change in the entire team because this now became a goal for the team. People started listening more to their stakeholders peers and in fact, acknowledging their work more openly, the team dynamics changed and collaboration peaked. Hopefully these three actionable and you can add to them help you start incorporating competition into your daily lives. Trust me, it's not easy. I think we've all been there. You know, we have a natural tendency to compete. It's, you know, in green, but that's why a mix of competition and Cooper operation which is cooper helps bring out the best in us. Now, remember we typically view our careers as a zero sum or finite game. It's time we look beyond and start looking at it as a non finite game with core petition to achieve our global Maximus. This is the way forward. This is the only way that can lead us to the best version of ourselves, but lead the whole society to a collective global maximum. I hope that competition helps you achieve your global maximum. Thank you.