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Constructive Competition vs Destructive Competition

Competition can be a powerful tool for collaboration.

In physics, constructive interference describes when waves overlap perfectly to create a single wave as big as the two combined, while destructive interference describes when two opposite waves collide, cancelling each other out.

Competition sometimes get a bad rep, not just in business terms, but also for your well-being. However, competition can really fall into one of two categories: constructive competition or destructive competition. Like waves colliding to form a bigger wave, or waves crashing into each other, two people competing can either work better together, or just create mutual stress.

How do you ensure constructive competition?

You never want to fall into the category of destructive competition. We all know the signs: A battle of inflated egos leading to the demise of a business. Humans are, by nature, competitive. Our greatest achievements owe to this inherent competitive instinct. Therefore, you’d neither be able to, nor would you want to get rid of competition.

To ensure that competition is constructive, you only need to pay attention to one thing: A shared vision.

A shared vision creates constructive competition. Everyone already has their own goals, needs, and personal vision within the organization. If an employee’s personal vision isn’t the same as the company vision, their mission won’t be in alignment with the company mission. These will be destructively competitive employees.

The remedy for this destruction must happen in the hiring process or immediately after hiring – you can’t change already destructive employees.

This is why vision – not skills, not experience, not background – is the single most important thing to look for in new hires. Employees with a shared vision will get along, regardless of their background, and they’ll figure out how to do what’s needed, regardless of the difficulty.

You can see examples of constructive competition in business. For instance, bitgrit is an AI company that allows data scientists to compete on meaningful problem statements. Thousands of data scientists in their community constructively collaborate on important issues.

To conclude, when people with a shared vision compete, the outcome is strengthened, but when people with different visions compete, the outcome suffers. Establish constructive competition in your organization by instilling a shared vision in the company culture.

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