The Olympics. X-Factor. The Rich List. The Nobel Prize.Everywhere you look: competition - for fame, money, attention, status. Being top seems to be everything - but what is it costing all of us?
We depend on competition and expect it to identify the best, make complicated decisions easy and to motivate the lazy and inspire the dreamers. But, as Margaret Heffernan shows in this eye-opening look at competition, competition regularly produces just what we don't want: rising levels of fraud, cheating, stress, inequality and political stalemate. Siblings won't speak to each other. Children burn out at school. Doping proliferates among athletes. Auditors and fund managers go to jail for insider trading. Winners seem to take all while the desire to win consumes all, inciting panic and despair.
We now know that competition often doesn't work, that the best do not always rise to the top and the so-called efficiency of competition creates a great deal of waste. So what are our alternatives? What are the skills needed for creative collaboration and how do we hone them?
Talking to scientists, musicians, athletes, entrepreneurs and executives, in the follow-up to her bestselling Wilful Blindness, Margaret Heffernan has discovered that, around the world, individuals and organizations are finding creative, cooperative ways to work that don't pit people against each other but support them in their desire to work together. While the rest of the world remains mired in pitiless sniping, racing to the bottom, the future belongs to the people and companies who have learned that they are greater working together than against one another. Some call that soft but it's harder than anything they've done before. They are the real winners, sharing a bigger prize.
MARGARET HEFFERNAN was born in Texas, raised in Holland and educated at Cambridge University. She worked in BBC Radio as a television producer, before leaving to run the trade association IPPA. She returned to the US where she worked on public affair campaigns and with software companies trying to break into multimedia. She then joined CMGI where she ran, bought and sold leading Internet businesses. She is a visiting professor and Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Bath. She is the author of The Naked Truth and How She Does It, and Wilful Blindness. She writes a regular column for Real Business and the Huffington Post.
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