I've always believed that our competitors are also our peers. They are the same people we network with at events, conferences and seminars. Peers share information to keep industries moving forward. We share new information to evolve with practices and technologies. But the fact that they are also our competitors creates a conflict of interest.
Competition breeds a different spirit. We see it in sports, politics and our careers.
We battle against each other to stand out. We strive to win the sport's medal, or win the client in our careers. But does this competitive spirit conflict with the networking spirit that is a must in managing a successful career?
The cover story (see Collaborative Views) brings this issue front of mind. Calvis Wyant Luxury Homes - a design/build firm with an in-house designer - partnered with an outside architect, Peterson Architecture & Associates, to complete the Goven Residence.
Though Calvis Wyant partners with outside architects for 10 percent of its projects, Peterson Architecture usually keeps designs in-house. Erik Peterson, president, found himself out of his comfort zone at the start of the project. "We didn't embrace the design/build off the bat because we weren't used to it," he says. Eventually, both parties came together and worked in a collaborative effort to complete a project they are both proud of.
Competition is good. It makes us better at our jobs, forces us to learn new practices, and helps businesses evolve. But it's also important to know when to put the competitive spirit aside and take advantage of our network. With this approach, attend conferences, seminars and cocktail events with an open mind.
Isn't the reason you attend the International Builders' Show and similar events because you want to learn? What better way to learn about new tools than from those who understand what you're going through? And don't forget it goes both ways. Share your experiences with your peers, and help them to understand a tool you've used.
By partnering together on the Goven Residence, Peterson and Calvis Wyant had to communicate with each other. If the builder needed more detail in the design, Peterson shared that information. And if Peterson needed to know something about the budget, Calvis shared it.
In the process, both parties learned different ways of operating a business. "They have been doing this for 20 years and have a unique process," Peterson says. "It was great that they shared the information and taught us [their process]."
Be competitive but also remember that sharing stories can be done without exposing company secrets.