Corporate social responsibility (CSR) blogs and newswires in the tech sector have recently been abuzz with the news that Tim Mohin (formerly with AMD, Intel & Apple) has been named the new Chief Executive of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the leading global framework for sustainability reporting. Equally interesting is the attention given to his most recent comments around the term “collaboretition.”
You won’t find collaboretition in any English dictionary – not even the Urban Dictionary – but I suspect it will be enjoying widespread adoption in the near future. Collaboretition is the acknowledgement of a new paradigm in sustainability – collaboration that accommodates competition.
Competition is generally accepted as essential for the advancement of markets, innovation and productivity. It is the core focus of business – and what great companies do best. Collaboration, in kind, is essential for driving meaningful change in global industries and their supply chains. It is the core focus of multi-stakeholder initiatives designed to address issues like climate change (think standardized carbon reporting) and human rights (think conflict minerals).
Yet, typically, we don’t think of competition and collaboration as being compatible.
We’re wrong not to. In the context of sustainability, collaborative competition empowers companies to work together on tough social and environmental problems within their industries, but still independently flex their muscle on issues key to their organization’s values and markets. When companies engage in this type of differentiation, they drive their triple bottom line to their own advantage. But that’s not all. They also create gravitational forces with the potential to pull entire industries forward to achieve new levels of social and environmental performance.
And that’s a good thing.