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A vision for co-opetition

Co-opetition is on the rise as more competitors partner for mutual gain.  

In fact, some of society’s biggest achievements or successes have come from cooperation. Harvard Business Review uses space exploration as a perfect example of when competition and cooperation have equally spurred on progress. 

Nevertheless, competition remains a fierce and overwhelming reality in today’s business markets. When we look at the potential of collaboration, the question of why we’re still fighting one another seriously needs to be explored. 

Killing the ‘kill the competition’ mentality

There are probably hundreds of phrases for our current mentality to business.  

“Eat or be eaten”; “survival of the fittest”; “may the best man win”; and so on.  

This is clearly a very established model, but it is also an outdated one. Economically, it doesn’t always make sense for companies to be competing so directly. Often, it results in a zero-sum game – where competitors’ efforts simply cancel one another out. 

Everybody is investing their resource, but no-one is reaping the rewards – so what’s the point?  

Taking a more collaborative, united approach not only saves companies unnecessary cost, time and effort, but it can also prevent negative tactics. For example; self-cannibalisation, undercutting, or even sabotage. 

There are several industries already putting the competition mentality behind them and demonstrating the truly positive effects that united problem-solving can have. 


Where there is a desire to fulfil a collective mission, you will often see organisations sector-wide working together. Social housing or crime prevention, for example, are industries far less focused on competition, and more concerned with having the greatest impact possible.  

This more often leads to people working collaboratively with one another, or with the government. 

You’ll likely see global or national associations, or collective initiatives, in these sectors – HACT or NCMEC, for example. While many of these are non-profits, a large number are private (for profit) organisations that are still willing to put their mission before competition. 


Technology development is another great example of collaboration in action. Not only are Big Tech giants leveraging opportunities for co-opetition, such as the partnership between Samsung and Apple, but so much of technology is built on the infrastructure developed by open-source communities. In addition, a key quality of good technology today is its ability to integrate with other supposed ‘competitors’. 

We use layers of open-source technology to underpin our products. Then, we provide our customers with their own platform, empowering them to do the same with their services. It’s a harmonious cycle that encourages relationships, collaboration, and collective benefit. 

The evolution of competition 

1. Silos 

A siloed model is one where the need to compete often comes first and foremost.  

For decades, the number of competitors in a marketplace offering the same thing has been expanding. Companies are fighting harder and harder against their rivals – but this only drains their resources. 

Ultimately, both the businesses and the end users suffer.  

2. Differentiation 


Differentiation is a more amicable and logical solution to competition. If someone is threatening your space, find a niche that they can’t compete with. Whether it’s doing something faster, cheaper, or with better quality. These factors help consumers choose the right solution for their needs, and enable companies to effectively compete. 

3. Co-opetition 


Co-opetition is the collaborative model. This could come in many forms, from partnerships to mergers and acquisitions. This has many benefits from letting organisations leverage their competition’s expertise to joining forces and sharing the market. 

The bottom line is, neither party is being swallowed by the other, and the customers are getting a better offering out of it. 

The next evolution for co-opetition 

There is a potential stage beyond co-opetition: an entirely collaborative ecosystem. 

In this day and age, this means sharing data. We’ve already adopted the cloud – a shared infrastructure vs siloed data centres – but the next step would be for organisations to have universal access to the same shared data. This could in theory create a perfectly seamless user experience. 

For example, Uber has your location and destination data. But it doesn’t know anything more about your plans for dinner at said destination.  

If these two organisations – the restaurant and your app – could communicate, traditionally siloed operations could align and become much more reactive. Let’s take a look at how this could work: 

Say you order your Uber late and, as a result, will miss your table booking.

Your Uber app could recognise this and contact the restaurant. 

Now let’s introduce Google, Google Maps and Uber Eats to the mix.  

Integrated with these data sources, your Uber app could create a new reservation elsewhere.  

Not only this, but it could take into consideration your preferences based on order history, proximity, and similarity to your original choice. 

Then, finally, it could reroute your journey automatically. 

Of course, this is a hypothetical that comes with some serious considerations. But, it demonstrates how true collaboration could benefit all parties involved. Technology, in its current trajectory, is starting to head in this direction. A lot of consumer data is now public, and integration and user control are already key focuses for technological innovation. 

So, what would we theoretically need to make this kind of open business and consumer ecosystem work? 

  • Data privacy: There would need to be a strong and mature understanding of data privacy, as well as the proper tools in place to give users control over what they do and don’t share. 
  • Conduct: Organisations involved would need to agree to a robust set of rules about how they handle data and how they work with one another. 
  • Mindset: A cultural shift would be essential as an ecosystem model would only work if the majority of potential users – consumers and businesses – participated. What’s more, a degree of trust would be fundamental to building and maintaining this ecosystem. 

Co-opetition for management consultancy 

Mindset has the power to build an ecosystem of organisations. At the heart of it all, we want to help solve the problems of our customers and help them to do the same for their customers. 

We have a long-term vision of a knowledge economy ecosystem where organisations in this sector are sharing their resources and supporting one another, empowered by Mindset. 

Collaboration or co-opetition is already a viable opportunity for management consultancy. As a largely specialist industry, organisations could benefit from partnering with other experts to broaden their market appeal and provide greater value to their customers. 

Mindset gives them a route to do this. To collaboratively share knowledge, combine skills, and collectively empower their customers. 

Learn more about Mindset here. 


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