Wiktionary defines competition as a contest for a prize or award – and there’s no doubt that a good contract with a desirable client can count as a prize! The uneven income of many consultants to community benefit nonprofits /social enterprise groups can make us dubious about sharing the occasional wealth that comes our way.
It’s not only financial pressures that discourage us from collaborating. It’s also the competitive process many organizations follow in choosing their consultants. Some are wary of even accepting a collaborative bid from several solo practitioners rather than a company that uses, or appears to use, only employees. They aren’t sure how to hold a group of solo practitioners or small businesses accountable, or how well the team will work together.
Yet, why have we chosen this field of work, when other more lucrative choices beckon? I’ve heard so many colleagues speak to the satisfaction they get from serving organizations that help make their community, and world, better. Wiktionary says to collaborate is to work together with others to achieve a common goal. Sounds like we have a common goal, doesn’t it?
Let’s talk about the differences between collaborating and competing. What do we mean by those terms within our community? If we collaborate, how does that affect our client’s culture and results? What does bringing an ethos of competition to our assignments mean to our clients?
In previous NPCons chats, we’ve explored ways we can help each other plan and write. We’ve also discussed how we can involve others to help administer our businesses and more. Can we apply that thinking to directly serving our clients? Can we identify any situations where collaboration isn’t desirable?
Let’s even dream a little. Buffy Sainte-Marie wrote a song about how wars couldn’t happen without the Universal Soldier. She sang that fighting is “not the way to put an end to war.“
What if we could shift the whole paradigm to where all the available skills in a community could be used to make the community better? To where we could make a decent living without having to fight each other for contracts, or exclude colleagues from projects that could benefit from their skills? Do you see that as a pipe dream, a future worth working towards, or a dystopian nightmare?
Join us on Tuesday, May 21st at 1 PM PST, 4 PM EST, to tap into the collective wisdom of #NPCons.