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A Bigger Prize

When No One Wins Unless Everyone Wins

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One of the 100 best behavioural economic books of all time recommended by Jeff Bezos, Tim Ferriss, Satya Nadella, Brian Tracy and Erik Brynjolfsson.

The Olympics. Britain's Got Talent. The Rich List. The Nobel Prize.

Everywhere you look: competition - for fame, money, attention, status.

We depend on competition and expect it to identify the best, make complicated decisions easy and, most of all, to motivate the lazy and inspire the dreamers. How has that worked out so far?

Rising levels of fraud, cheating, stress, inequality and political stalemates abound. Siblings won't speak to each other they're so rivalrous. Kids can't make friends because they don't want to cede their top class ranking to their fellow students. (Their parents don't want them to either.) The richest men in the world sulk when they fall a notch or two in the rich list. Doping proliferates among athletes.

Auditors and fund managers go to jail for insider trading. Our dog-eat-dog culture has decimated companies, incapacitated collaborators and sown distrust. Winners take all while the desire to win consumes all, inciting panic and despair.

Just as we have learned that individuals aren't rational and markets aren't efficient but went ahead operating as though they were, we now know that competition quite regularly doesn't work, the best do not always rise to the top and the so-called efficiency of competition throws off a very great deal of waste. It might be comforting to designate these 'perverse outcomes' but as aberrations mount, they start to look more like a norm.

It doesn't have to be that way. Around the world, individuals and organizations are finding creative, collaborative 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.

Photograph (c) Robert Taylor

MARGARET HEFFERNAN is one of the UK's most highly regarded thought leaders. She mentors CEOs and senior executives of major global organizations, and is Lead Faculty for the Forward Institute's Responsible Leadership Programme. An entrepreneur, CEO and keynote speaker, she is the also author of five previous books: Beyond Measure, A Bigger Prize, Wilful Blindness, Women on Top and The Naked Truth. The best-selling Willful Blindness : Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril was named one of the most important business books of the decade by the Financial Times, and was shortlisted for the FT Business Book Award 2011.   In 2015, she was awarded the Transmission Prize for A Bigger Prize: Why Competition isn't Everything and How We Do Better, described as "meticulously researched…engagingly written…universally relevant and hard to fault."  Her TED talks have been seen by over eleven million people and in 2015 TED published Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes.   Born in Texas, raised in Holland and educated at Cambridge University, Margaret worked in BBC Radio for five years where she wrote, directed, produced and commissioned documentaries and dramas, and has herself written five plays. She was named one of the Internet's Top 100 by Silicon Alley Reporter in 1999, one of the Top 25 by Streaming Media magazine and one of the Top 100 Media Executives by The Hollywood Reporter. Her 'Tear Down the Wall' campaign against AOL won the 2001 Silver SABRE award for public relations. She holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Bath, and continues to write for the Financial Times and Huffington Post.    Visit http://www.mheffernan.com/ or follow @M_HeffernanWatch:  Human Skills We Need in an Unpredictable WorldTEDSummit2019  

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (February 27, 2014)
  • Length: 448 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781471100772

One of the 100 best behavioural economic books of all time recommended by Jeff Bezos, Tim Ferriss, Satya Nadella, Brian Tracy and Erik Brynjolfsson

More books from this author: Margaret Heffernan