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EBBF Meaningful Hangout : making the shift from Competition to Collaboration

Participants from South Africa, Europe and various US coasts came together to ask great questions and offer very interesting, and quite unexpected insights into the shift from competition to collaboration in our workplaces. The fact that we had telecom consultants, human rights advocacy experts, journalists, graphic designers, small entrepreneurs, TV and film directors on the hangout gave us the opportunity to – expand – the concept of workplace and explore the dynamics of very different work environments.

To introduce the topic protagonist Leyla Tavernaro Haidarian offered a brief case study as related to her experience in the film industry:

“The film industry requires a great amount of coordination by a lot of people. So while there is a great deal of competition to get into highly desirable positions, once you are in the work is highly interactive, and cooperative. As this unfolding brought me such joy, I felt compelled to bring the examples I’d seen in my workplace to other industries and assist people to create a more collaborative environment in their workplaces.”

In order to serve as a coach and consultant Leyla began to study a number of fields; psychology, communication science, quantum physics, and business models based in unity and oneness. What she began to uncover was that the shift from competition to collaboration must begin in the mind of the individual. It is there that new perceptions, such as ‘cooperation as a vehicle for facilitating prosperity in our lives’, shift from values to beliefs that organically grow to outward expression. Leyla’s studies indicated that 99% of all manifestation is brought forth through the mind. Only 1% of our creative focus need be physical action/interaction, yet we very much enjoy the confirmation of seeing the alignment of our inner life made manifest in our outward reality.

ebbf:  What are ebbf members seeing in the non-profit sector–more collaboration or competition?

Kit Bigelow noted a noticeable decrease in collaborative efforts compared to 15 years ago, which seemed to driven by a quest for much needed funding. In order to win grants/sponsors, non-profits felt required to prove that they were acting singularly in a manner that was outperforming their competition. Thus, they would have something of value to showcase in their Annual Reports as list as reasons to lend financial support to their organization, over another. She believes this is a critical moment in time. There does seem to be some spans of collaboration when a larger purpose comes into play, but this has not proven sustainable. Therefore Kit looks to the ebbf community for examples of sustainable collaboration or promising, innovative avenues to propose to the non-profit sector.

ebbf:  How to we release the perception that funding is limited and we must compete for this privilege?

One sited example was the Code for America Campaign – by creating viral noise, and extending an open invitation for collaboration the organization is expanding rapidly and collecting much greater funding as they go.

Another space where open invitation and sharing of technology seems to expand the overall desire for consumption is in new technology. In the field of Kids Apps Ravi offers, “Validating the market is much more the issue for new cutting edge technologies than is competing for current funding.”

Also, Kimberly offered the idea that we could try to shift from sponsoring companies to sponsoring projects as a viable way to shift to a more collective response. A noteworthy example of global cooperation and diversified project-based funding can be seen here:

ebbf:  Could a shift in vision from short-term to long term rewards enhance collaboration, and enhance the prosperity of mankind?

Leyla noted an insightful case study sited in South Africa by Economist, Michael Karlburg whose work indicates that the current ‘culture of contest’ results in conflict, instability and crisis. Karlburg advocates that complex problems are overcome by collaboration over sustained amounts of time.  He shares that the desire to find meaning, and to align with high purpose, is deeply ingrained in human motivation. The results of collaboration are nothing short of a rapid increase in excellence, creativity and productivity.

Karlberg points to these success strategies for making the shift from competition to collaboration: Education–early years, and youth. Organizational restructuring–along more mutual lines. Nurturing diversity–Seeking out models of community life that nurture diversity as a source of wellbeing. Justice–as the central organizing principle.

He suggests we foster purposeful, focused and systematic cultures of learning. Please enjoy his TEDxTalk here as listed in our resource below.

A success story was noted at the grass roots level in South Africa where an economist convinced banks to look toward the long term advantages of fueling economic empowerment by enabling professionals to their own home. Home ownership is seen as the cornerstone of economic life South Africa. Yet, many Nurses, Policeman, Teachers not earning enough to get a loan from the banks, so they created a program where banks would co-invest with professionals willing to set aside an agreeable percentage of their income for their housing needs. While the short term benefits were slimmer than what a smaller portion of in marketplace could bear, the banks realized that down the line, this decision would create an economic upturn in their communities. Therefore, it would be to their benefit to engage this unexpected business offering, meet the market where it was at, delight the people, and enjoy prosperity in the future.

ebbf:  Is accompaniment the answer to facilitating change?

Educating educators into the process of collaborative learning is a key opportunity. We need to shift from win/lose to win/win collaboration in traditional education system. In an educational experiment (brother of Leyla) the students who more often apply collaborative styles tended to get high marks. In eduction, creating collaborative styles can be assisted by engaging kids in doing real-life projects. – e.g. Collecting soil samples from the backyard and contributing them to a national database. Discovery learning is the key.

In business we need to shift the focus from putting money at the centre to making the human being the centre. This includes putting core values (spiritual/physical wellness) at the center of every business—as we have seen very profitable companies often have very unhappy people working there if this is not a priority.

The principle of consultation can strengthen innovation & progress tremendously. Coaches can assist workplaces to foster a more collaborative setting. Leyla shared a technique: To resolve conflicts, frame the idea that the intention behind our conflicting behaviors is likely positive, and then ask each party to share the intention behind their action. From this feedback look for the underlying unifying elements and move forward in collaborative purposeful planning toward satisfying on all levels the underlying purpose for creating a meaningful vision of progress and a systematic plan for advancement toward this goal.

ebbf :  Call to members to site collaborative examples from around the world

In the U.S. the Gates Foundation and Ford Foundation are rethinking their funding models toward the growing trend of shared/open source information.

Conferences are being held in South Africa where there is a big focus on how to work together. Religious leaders are trying to find common interest, competing broadcasters are talking about common values. This in effort to give a sense of direction and optimism to the communities they serve.

In Europe the trend is still to seek collaboration when the goal is of great importance. e.g. issue advocay, human rights and international issues. For these high purposes citizens and corporations are generally willing to set their differences, or competitive play aside to arise to the quest of a higher outcome. (Notice, even in this formerly highly competitive culture people are developing an awareness that collaboration is the winning model for holding the space of peace, collective prosperity, and international development.)


Higher purpose stimulates people to work together. Shifting vision from short-term rewards to long-term just, sustainable, prosperity. Shift funding to cooperative projects, rather than sponsoring individual companies. Innovation stimulates cooperative learning while growing the market share. Educating on the benefits of collaboration, shifting the perception to cooperation being our natural state is key.


Gregg Braden / The Science of Miracles: Deepak Chopra / Quantum Healing, — lovely in describing how wholeness/unity applies to the physical/medical level. Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview: Michael Karlburg ‘Culture of Contest’ Funding Projects example:

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