For some reason this theme has been popping up lately in various blogs and magazine articles which has gotten me thinking of the “cooperation continuum“. As you might be asking why refer to it as a “continuum” rather than a rote action, to this let me ask as every time you “cooperate” with someone else is it in an equal manner? Well an honest answer would be no, as you may willing cooperate, or you may provide “combative” cooperation in cases where your “will” doesn’t match your orders.
However the act of cooperation is part of the big four ranking right up there with intelligence, language, dexterity (for making tools). As us being homo-sapiens we require “cooperation” in order to further our existence and the extension of affluencey past generational limitations. As think about it this way (bringing dexterity back into the picture) is the creation of a “tool“. Here the investment in the time to create the tool is performed by one generation then passed forward through several proceeding ones which instead of having to reinvest time in “recreation“, they can invest in net new creation.
This cycle has been a key success factor in the growth of our society, and cooperation is the deeply rooted seed which drives this. As if there were not a willingness (read as cooperation) to pass along items be it knowledge (intelligence), stories written or verbal (language), or physical tools (dexterity). Then this model would breakdown, and we would become no more than the common squirrel, simply living from generation to generation in the same fashion and form.
With all of this being said, wanted look at other side of cooperation as it’s built solely upon “trust“. As when each party cooperates, there is the expectation that there will be a return of value for such action. As for example potential home owners will enter into a cooperative agreement with a builder to build them a new home. Here two separate “value sets” are brought together to form the cooperative model (isn’t this starting to sound zero sum-ish). As if either are out of bounds (i.e. The continuum) then the “cooperative” model too will break down as trust is either diminished or lost in total.
So what are the practicalities of this in day to day life, as each day our goal is to “cooperate” yet the same rules apply here as waxed above in macro contexts. As each meeting, or project you take part in, is an act of cooperation and let me ask this of you, do you treat them all equally? Again if your honest the answer is no. As the key component here is the value driver of each as the closer to your own goals, the closer to your own value propositions and therefore your engagement in the process is increased. As if you’re the leader in an endeavor, a key factor is understanding the “cooperation coefficient” of each of the key stake holders who is required as part of the project. As your success will be directly predicated upon the perceived value each participant has, as this is matched in direct correlation to the level of cooperation provided…