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Fightclub: Cooperation vs Competition - Round 1

When is competition healthy?, When should we cooperate?

When is competition healthy? When should we cooperate?

If one enters the world of published psychology, there are many thousands of papers which will give you almost any answer to these questions you desire.

Taking a page from the book 'The Design of Design', Brooks Jr puts forth two simple rules for cooperation and competition:

*    If the objectives and  constraints are well known, then competition will typically yeild the best results.

*    If the objectives and constraints are ambiguous, then cooperation is the preferred approach.

 His justifications aside, there are plenty of reasons competition can be damaging, and likewise, many situations where cooperation is just a waste of time. Poorly managed / unfocused meetings are a perfect example of cooperation gone wrong, (one of my pet hates).

I've experienced many game team projects where unmanaged cooperation / competition have run wild, (some projects during my undergraduate degree, but also many since I've entered the workforce).

 So what is healthy competition? What is healthy cooperation?

 I don't think anyone should argue that the balance does not need to be maintained. Perhaps this happens informally, but when things are working there is always someone responsible.

In my experience they are usually referred to as 'carrying the team', or thanked for 'coordinating efforts'.

In both primary and secondary schools  a hybrid approach is often used. Small groups are put into competition against each other.

(Thinking about it, I just realised that this is how all team sports function too, Duh!)

 In the coming months I'll be putting my game design students through both cooperative and competitive approaches, not to see which works best, but to give them an appreciation for the different environments cooperation and competition can create. I hope to jcollect some evidence towards better management of competition and cooperation.

Do you have a stellar story of cooperation gone bad? Or perhaps you've been in a competitive situation that produced the best of everyone?

When I think of cooperation gone wrong, the only word in my head is 'meetings', and I wonder which meeting will be responsible for birthing the next horror into my world....

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