Co-opetition not Competition

At Vybrant we like to make frenemies and indulge in some healthy co-opetition. Why does co-opetition work? Because innovation and value are more commonly generated in networks. Indeed, many gurus think that the collaborative dynamic of networks, partnerships, and joint ventures is a main organising principle of the modern global economy.

Now the major TV companies are about to become frenemies (that’s a word credited to Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP Group, to describe ones fellow co-opetitioners). The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have created a joint project to combine their archives online. Rather brilliantly they have realised that most of us want to watch TV on a TV and not on a computer, but most importantly we want to watch it when we want to watch it. Whilst Sky provides a partial solution to that, Project Kangaroo, as it is called, could eventually provide seamless TV, on demand, with your TV plugged directly into the net. (It’s called Kangaroo, by the way because kangaroos are very large and powerful and have very big feet for kicking things and stamping on them – the collaboration only goes so far in this case!)

What is interesting about this is that many neurologists believe that Generation X, the so-called Digital Natives, who have literally grown up using computers, videogames, digital music players, video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age have almost certainly wired their brains differently. In other words, they think and process information in fundamentally different ways from the rest of us. For them co-opetition and frenemies are just the way things are. For those of us who are Digital Immigrants, and that includes even those of us most fascinated by technology, vestiges of the old ways will always remain. As much as we learn to adapt to our new environment, we cannot entirely lose our “accents” – those tiny little slips that show where we came from originally. And very often our roots in competitive systems show through. Ever seen a ‘win-win’ deal where you win, but the other party wins more? And you might say, what’s wrong with that, it’s called win-win, not parity-parity. What would a Digital Native say?

Vybrant is more Digital Immigrant than Digital Native, (and some of us have quite heavy accents!) but we are partial to co-opetition, we always like making frenemies and we excel at constructing partnerships and win-win deals. We like to work with coaches with different backgrounds and technical expertise and we believe that business development partnerships are the co-opetition of the future.