In 2014, I wrote about the powerful tools of competition, collaboration, cooperation, and compromise. I have been considering a revisit of this topic for several days, as the need for compromise, collaboration, competition, and cooperation seem to continue to fade and be plasticized. I also feel a dire need exists for every citizen to know what is happening and how to recognize when you were fed rotten mushrooms when you expected steak.
The inherent discussion is condensed from Thomas (1992), who advocated this combined approach to organizational design as a masterstroke to getting people working together. The same basic philosophy can be seen in the writings of Goldratt and Cox (2004), Lencioni (2002), Lundin, Paul, and Christensen (2000), Boynton and Fischer (2005), and Boylan (1995), among many others. Notably, these principles have been understood throughout time; Jucius (1963), in speaking of the broader issues in personnel management, understood the combined power of collaboration, cooperation, compromise, and competition and wrote extensively about using these effectively in the organization. Cruickshank and Davis (1958) understood these principles as a combined and more effective tool than different general direction strategies. All of these authors have strove to ensure business leaders understood the practical application and inherent need for the organization to adhere to these principles as a combined effort of all organizational members. McNichols (1963) strove to keep these items combined in executives’ minds, thus empowering them to discover solutions employing all the strengths in the consolidated collective use of competition, collaboration, compromise, and competition. The empowerment felt in combining these tools elevates the individual focus into a collected culture and body, and the solutions for an organization are improved dynamically.
Collaboration is strengthened by cooperation, compromise, and competition. Collaboration is all about action, working together with another person or entity to produce or create a product or service. However, like all words on this list, the term has a dark side and a legal standard born from the historical collaboration with enemy forces as a traitor. Collaboration originates with Latin from Collaborare, meaning to work together.
Senator McCain would call his political gymnastics with the then-Senator Obama as collaboration, or working peacefully together for the common good; but in honesty, the resulting product was more the traitorous use of collaboration. Unfortunately, the same pattern is visible in many current politicians who “make deals” to “make history.” Instead of writing laws suitable for everyone and are constitutional, while scrutinizing the legislative branch for runaway government.
Competition is the act of competing, and competing is all about striving to achieve something through defeating or establishing superiority over another. Competition must end in collaboration, cooperation, and compromise; in fact, competition will breed collaboration and cooperation to reach a compromise before those competing against; this is why competition is so powerful but not independent of the others. The fires of competition are crucial to purifying those collaborating, compromising, and cooperating into a single, honed unit that can more effectively work together.
The dark side of competition is what is witnessed in too many governments’ capitals. The hostility of establishing superiority has created monsters of hate, envy, spite, malice, and the citizenry are left betrayed and confused. The competition between political parties has bred such tremendous angst that neither political party can see past the next election and realize the competition they are in is meaningless, at best! I was disgusted with the political response to the Bush/Cheney election and the “Chads.” But, since that election, the rhetoric has only climbed higher and higher. The parties try to make enemies of each other and the citizens until a war of words and silly emotional jokes are running around, displaying their childish stupidity.
Every adult in the room should be aware by now that a good compromise leaves everyone upset. This is a simple truth of humanity and has been apparent in every age of recorded human history. As a verb (denoting action taken) or a noun, the common definition of compromise boils down to the same thing, settling a dispute by mutual concession. Webster and Cambridge Dictionaries are pretty clear on this topic. Every side concedes a little for the whole to gain a lot. Compromise without cooperation or collaboration is nothing, and competition is an added value, or force multiplier, to ensuring more decisive compromise.
However, Speaker Pelosi (D) feels a distinct need to continuously offer this word as what happened in a political committee. But, she uses compromise as a verb with the following definitions:
- Bringing into disrepute or danger by indiscreet, foolish, or reckless behavior.
- To cause to become vulnerable or function less effectively.
- Weaken (a reputation or principle) by accepting standards that are lower than is desirable.
- To accept standards that are lower than is desirable.
Hence, let me be explicit, compromise when discussing the 4-C’s uses the term as a noun or a verb using the common definition. Do we understand why Speaker Pelosi (D) and many other politicians from both sides of the aisle use compromise as a verb or plasticize compromise as a noun to describe the political chicanery happening outside the light of day?
For example, we could use the compromise of BREXIT as to why BREXIT went from a good thing to a punishment. We could use ObamaCare as a perfect example of political compromise, where lower standards became acceptable, and America’s healthcare became vulnerable due to the reckless and feckless behavior of the politicians involved! We could use the wasted time of the District of Columbia becoming the 51st state legislation as a dispute brought by foolish behavior that forces the US Constitution to be violated by lower standards than desirable.
Cooperation is a process; this fact can never and should never be forgotten. A process requires investment from all sides, time, trust, and a clear goal to achieve. Cooperation is the rendering of assistance through ready compliance, not compulsory means! Cooperation can do nothing without the shared responsibilities of collaboration and compromise; when competition is added, the cooperation is strengthened, not weakened. Yet, even cooperation can be abused, turning friends into enemies, family into distant associates, and countries to war.
WWI and WWII brought the dark side of cooperation into life, and the same hatreds borne from those conflicts still exist today! Consider the US Civil War; President Lincoln wanted to forgive the Confederate States and welcome them back into the Union with open arms, no hate, no animosity, no recriminations. When President Lincoln was shot, the South was not brought back into the Union, except as an outcast. The citizens of the confederacy were treated horribly then and now through the punishment of the law. There are still actively used laws to punish the Confederate States, keeping the area in depression; this is the dark side of cooperation.
The first post on this topic explicitly dealt with business and how businesses can use the combined power of the 4-C’s to more powerfully work together, advance towards a common goal, and achieve greatness. The same lessons taught in business should be applied to government offices and the elected officials holding public office. Yet, what do we find daily reported as news; childish behavior, tantrums, and vile deprecations towards those in the minority party. Even though history proclaims that today’s majority party is tomorrow’s minority party; hence, we should not be making enemies of each other. We should not be using the dark side of the 4-C’s as weapons of state to destroy but employing the light side to build, create, and grow.
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