Collaboration or Competition



Henry Ford - Collaboration

Collaboration or Competition

I’ve just returned home after spending three days working with the friends and trainers I met on my NLP Trainers course in Barcelona in September last year.

Our goal was to create video and podcasts and to set to work on a new website ‘NLP Media Bank’. The purpose of this is to provide an on going resource for all of our future students who undertake NLP training with any one of us as we have all has set up our own individual businesses to develop people. The idea started with Phil Quirk of HBP Training and quickly developed into a collaborative process.

Craig and Paula at Team Bootcamp HQ in Heydour hosted us. What a fantastic location in a beautiful part of the Lincolnshire countryside and observing what they are achieving with their residents is inspirational.

All of those at Team Bootcamp have become our collaborators and what we achieved over a couple days couldn’t have been done without them, Craig’s support and use of facilities was instrumental in driving the idea forward.

So, after recording numerous podcasts, videos of NLP in practice and agreeing the content for the website I began to think about collaboration and how that fits with competition. After all we as individuals are all pursuing our dreams of running our own businesses, all within a similar field and all of us with similar training!

To compete or to collaborate, that is the question?


Andrew Lee (The Curious Mind) says, “The primary belief that drives competition is that it helps the cream rise to the top; it drives excellence! Competition can help promote curiosity as we see in all the extraordinary innovations in the business, scientific, sport and academic worlds.” However, if unchecked it can also drive a close-minded, un-sharing mind-set where the focus shifts to defensiveness and protecting what we have.

In business and certainly within many organisations the belief is that to drive business forward you need competition. Pitting individuals, or groups against each other to create motivation is one method of doing this. This plays on the desire within many people to be the best, or at least, to be better than others. Some common techniques for harnessing this kind of motivation are leader boards, point systems and weekly or monthly league tables.

“You need competition to break new boundaries. But without collaboration, ideas never become reality” – Richard Branson, Virgin



According to Jane McGonigal in her book Reality is Broken collaboration is based on three elements:

  • Cooperating (acting purposefully toward a common goal) in our case providing an evolving support platform to our clients and our belief in NLP and coaching,
  • Coordinating (synchronizing efforts and sharing resources) all giving time and effort and support at Team Bootcamp, and
  • Co-creating (producing a novel outcome together) our brilliant NLP Media Bank website.

She argues that this kind of coming together of people is far more powerful than competition.

When considering the issue of competition or collaboration I came across an article by Rob Grant where he quotes this great story which I think challenges our perception of collaboration:

In The Abeliene Conspiracy by Gerry Harvey a Harvard Business School Professor in the 50’s: he expands upon this idea. Gerry saw competition as diametrically opposed to most of the aims of building communities, whether as teams, organisations or families.

One year he told his MBA students that anyone caught cheating during the exams would be expelled. He then defined cheating as not sharing, he went further to explain that if someone asked you what you thought about a particular question and you didn’t share your thoughts he would label that cheating.

Not surprisingly when other professors heard of this they argued he was being unrealistically idealistic. One of them put forward this gem of logic. “Gerry you can’t tell me that if you were lying on a hospital theatre bed with a life threatening illness that you wouldn’t want the surgeon not to be the person who came top of medical school- you would want the best of the best!”

Harvey responded. “Good point but let’s look at it this way, imagine if that were you on the operating table and the surgeon standing in front of you was not 100% sure what the best way forward was, would you want the one that went ahead anyway or the one that asked his/ her colleagues for their opinion?”


It is worth looking at the standard dictionary definitions of the two C’s. Competition is described as: the process of trying to beat others, opposition and the struggle for resources! On the other hand Collaboration is defined as working together, teamwork, pooling resources and partnership.

Within our group who will continue to regularly meet to develop our NLP Media Bank the idea of collaboration is at the forefront of how we want to develop and do our business. This is because where competition can encourage selfish, closed-off values, collaboration encourages more open-minded, selfless behaviours, and these are better for everyone.

Also, through collaboration people can share ideas and techniques for solving certain problems, instead of keeping them for themselves. This leads to a much faster learning curve for the group. As our group is all about working with others to develop and motivate them, then if we learn more quickly we will be able to offer better and more focused solutions to our clients.

Ultimately, as Aristotle said, “humans are inherently social beings. We live for our relationships and connections.”

Our collaborative group made a great connection in Barcelona, we have cemented that connection in Heydour and I for one look forward developing this collaboration in the future.

Andy McGregor-Taylor,

M.Ed. (Dist.), B.A.Hons. ABNLP, ABH, TLTA™,

Certified Trainer and Master Practitioner of NLP, Time Line Therapy™ and Hypnotherapy

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