Business, careers, even education… we are increasingly told that to get on is to get ahead, to compete. But what if it wasn’t competing with others that powers success in business and in life, but co-operating with them?
Co-operation in the economy is not often talked about, but it has always been there.
The first powered flight took place in December 1903 by the Wright Brothers. What followed was then a bitter rivalry for the next fifteen years between them and a rival airplane maker, Glenn Curtis. Come America’s entry into the First World War and no American airplane was viewed as good enough to go into combat. The Wright brothers and Glenn Curtis were willing to see the airplane industry grounded than to see the other win out in terms of setting standards for airplanes to succeed.
In 1917 US Congress forced the formation of the Manufacturers Aircraft Association. This was a way to set shared standards and pool the critical patents needed for airplanes and the aeroplane industry to take off.
The same idea of a patent pool is used today to cut the costs of HIV retroviral drugs in Africa.
Sometimes you have to co-operate, to get ahead.