Business should be Cooperation, not War

When I was younger I used to read a lot of management books – how to lead people, how to build a successful company, etc. Many of these books were written by global management and leadership gurus of our time – and quite often they referred to the book “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. Some of them even referred to this book as the “Bible” of business strategy and management. So, many years ago I decided to buy this book myself and proceeded to try and read it. However, I was just not able to read more than a few chapters. I did persevere and tried a few more times, but there was such a big disconnection between what I was trying to do in our company and what I was reading in this book that I eventually decided to give up. From that moment on, each time somebody mentioned this book, as the “ultimate” source of information for success in business, I felt somehow guilty and inferior, because I was just not able to grasp the great “promised” wisdom from this book…

You can hear many business leaders and managers speaking about “fighting” with their competitors, about “killing” the businesses of their rivals, about “conquering” new markets and about them leading their company into “the battle”, etc.

The more experience I have gained and now when looking back on my business activities in the context of the whole of society, the more I realize that something is fundamentally wrong with the business world. I am NOT at war, when I lead my company, I provide SERVICE. We are not here to “CONQUER”, we are here to provide quality service and to help:

  • For our clients, so they can focus on their business.
  • For our colleagues, so that they can materialize their dreams and potential and earn money for a living.
  • To our suppliers and other business partners, so they can provide a service like we do.
  • To communities and countries where we do business – we are very lucky to be healthy and have the ability to do the things that we love. So we should be grateful for it and bare in our minds that there are many people around us, who have never done anything bad in their lives, but are less fortunate than we are – and we shall help them. None of us can influence how and where we are born into this world, but we are still members of the same family – humankind and we shall SUPPORT each other.

Even my competitor provides me with a service and I likewise provide the same service for him. I want to be better today than yesterday and FAIR competition HELPS me to benchmark myself and to grow.

I think it is clear that we NEED EACH OTHER. A Company needs employees, a client needs suppliers, a government need companies, citizens/employees need governments, we need healthy competition etc.

We CANNOT THRIVE and SURVIVE without each other. When there is a need for others to be able to survive – do you FIGHT with them or COOPERATE with them? What do you call someone, whose own survival depends on those around him, but he does not realize it and he continues fighting until the bitter end, until finally he has beaten them all? Such a person is a MADMAN in my mind…

Take a moment, slow down a little bit and OPEN your eyes, minds and hearts– what or probably better to ask – whom do you see around you; on the TV, on the internet or in the newspapers?

I no longer feel guilty or inferior anymore, when somebody refers to “The Art of War” as his management “Bible”, I now become suspicious of such a person…

I believe this world has ample resources and opportunities for everybody, but we have to leave behind our current path of madness. We have to stop “fighting” each other and start to COOPERATE. If we continue the infighting, “The World will NOT Be Enough”. Have you noticed that in 2014, the bottom half of world´s population owned the same amount, as the richest 85 people in the world? ( 85 people have the same wealth as 3,500,000,000 people?!?! This is absolutely ludicrous and definitively not sustainable.

Business leaders have a special responsibility – these are the people who have the power to influence where the world goes in the future – whether we will cooperate and enjoy those great gifts that life has given us or whether we continue fighting and speed up towards that moment when we face extinction of the human race, or even in the best case scenario, towards the end of the world as we know it.

Each and every one of us will be held accountable for the impact that our actions have on society and the world around us. So I ask you, just who or what is the authority, which will hold us accountable? We have a legal framework and a system of justice, but it is not enough alone. Society today has no formal mechanisms on how to steer development in the right direction.

But I believe all of us have two internal authorities to help navigate us through the challenges of business life ahead – our HEARTS, to help guide us in finding the right direction and our CONSCIENCE, to hold us accountable for what we do. More recently, it is great to see that more and more leaders have started to respect these two authorities. It is still in the minority, but we should not give up – the stakes are just too high…..

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