Historically it’s been easier to compete than to collaborate. As beings who are not as rational as we like to believe, to work against each other requires less energy than collaboration. But new technologies are reducing notably the effort involved in collaborating.

The ability of organisations to collaborate has a lot to do with the type of people involved. If companies want to be more collaborative, they need to start by changing their company profile, and the abilities and skills that they look for in the people they employ.

It’s difficult to introduce a culture of collaboration to companies when we’re not taught to collaborate in our professional training. How many universities encourage students from different faculties to mix, apart from on campus?

Collaboration emerges spontaneously when there is no economic value in play, when we practice hobbies or activities with no financial gain. The current economic system prevents collaboration because it’s structured as a winner/loser game; where for one to win, the other must lose.

The basic problem facing collaboration is one of incentive. The logical response is why should we collaborate. But looking to the future, the only possible answer is because we won’t have any other choice.

Science has already furthered the business management environment with regard to the need for collaboration. For a long time now it’s been difficult to write a scientific article without the input of more than one researcher.

Before us we face the challenge of making the most of being in a position to collaborate as we never have before, to achieve social and economic advantages. We are at an important point of historic change, although we may not realise it until 30 years from now.

We still have to invent the formula that proves it’s better to collaborate than to compete. To go from competition to collaboration depends on how we do it, and this equation is yet to be defined.

Idea from our book 30 Ideas for 2030

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