Sunday Snippet: Yves Morieux on Cooperation

“To cooperate is not a super effort, it is how you allocate your effort. It is to take a risk, because you sacrifice the ultimate protection granted by objectively measurable individual performance. It is to make a super difference in the performance of others, with whom we are compared. It takes being stupid to cooperate, then. And people are not stupid; they don’t cooperate.”

What does it take to succeed and what does success even look like when we get there? Far too often, we consider the notion of success on an individual basis. How many awards have I won? How much money did I make? How many accolades have I received? The problem is that we get stuck in this “what’s in it for me?” mentality and we end up stepping all over everyone else to get there. We’re not stupid and we’re in it to win it, right?

Of course, many of us have this idealized vision of ourselves and how we choose to interact with the world. We like to think that we’re looking out for our fellow man. We like to think that, of course, we can cooperate with one another toward a common goal. The problem is that we aren’t willing to make the personal sacrifices to get there.

That’s a big part of the message from the TED Talk delivered by Yves Morieux, which I’ve embedded below. Senior Partner and Fellow at the Boston Consulting Group, Yves Morieux is also the director of firm’s Institute for Organization. He argues that our battle is not with our competitors, but rather it is against ourselves. He aims to change the way we do business.

In the talk, he uses the analogy of a relay race.

To improve your own personal performance, you should focus all your energy into your legs so you can run faster. However, to improve your team’s total time, you may need to sacrifice some of your personal performance, diverting energy away from your legs and into optimizing how to hand off the baton. You may need to divert some energy in order to amp up your teammate, helping him or her run even faster too.

When you choose to cooperate, you choose to de-prioritize your personal gains and elevate the needs of the team. And it is only through cooperation and collaboration that we can go further. Your colleague may receive the award, reward or accolade instead of you. When you are willing to accept that, when you are willing to take yourself out of the limelight, you are ready to move forward. Together.

And that’s not stupid.