Does competition kill creativity?

Contribution from Keith Noble (Forepoint, Director)

Competition is a natural part of being a human-being, right? If it wasn’t for survival of the fittest, the human race would be extinct – though to be fair, it feels like we’re doing our very best to self-destruct at the moment.

If we look at competition, it’s something that sits uncomfortably with parts of modern-day society. Most school sports days are non-competitive, everyone’s a winner, it’s the ‘taking part that counts’ and everyone gets a medal. Don’t get me wrong, encouraging participation is so important. Inclusion and opportunity in sporting activity, and in life, are vital.

But it’s an interesting paradox. Many of these educational establishments are competing for outstanding Ofsted ratings, the best SATs results and the best GCSE exam results. THEY want to shine. THEY want to win.

Is competition healthy and necessary?
Every industry is motivated by competition, otherwise they’d have a tendency to become complacent – there’d be nothing new, no innovation, no better. The marketplace would be stagnant and controlled by a single, dominant force.

Does competition always deliver the best results?
Here at Forepoint, we pride ourselves on establishing long-term relationships with clients, built upon self-motivated competitiveness. Winning new business is a challenge, but so too is retaining existing clients. We constantly have to prove ourselves – driving to do things better, to innovate, to explore, to challenge, to think differently and to deliver the right solutions, time and time again.

However, we’re well aware that there are clients out there that think the best way to get value for money, the best quality work and the best agency relationship is to competitively tender every single project they commission, even if agencies have successfully made it through their rigorous pre-qualification process and on to their approved supplier list. Perhaps that says something about them, their values and how they value the work (and the agencies) they’re commissioning.

We can’t and shouldn’t remove competition from any marketplace, but I do think it should be applied wisely and fairly. There should always be time to breathe, to allow relationships, trust and understanding to develop so that genuine collaboration and subsequently great work can blossom. Competition in itself doesn’t always allow that to happen. In many tendering scenarios, agencies are often asked to pitch blind, or with access to only half the picture.

Does that mean we shouldn’t compete, even if we might not win? Of course not. You just need to make sure you choose your competitions wisely.

A moment of self-indulgence.

My son Harvey was recently competing for Lancashire at the English Schools Combined Events final. He was one of 26 boys that had qualified for the Decathlon – a proud dad moment.

Did he have an amazing weekend and walk away with the gold medal and title as ESSA Combined Events champion 2019? Did he nail every single event to perfection? Did everything go to plan? Did he give up because he had no chance of winning? Hell no! However, it wasn’t a wasted journey to Exeter, he threw a 47.86m (PB) javelin and ran the 1,500m like his life depended on it. What it proved was that if you’ve worked hard and trained hard, the competitive nature comes to the fore. If you give something your everything and never give up, you never know where it might lead.

Harvey came 6thoverall with three PBs in shot-putt, high jump and javelin, with an overall PB points score for Decathlon. Will he stop there? I very much doubt it.

3 take-aways

  1. Be prepared – competition is part of human nature, like it or not so choose your opportunities wisely.
  2. Be the best version of you possible – work on your strengths AND your weaknesses, be prepared and believe in yourself
  3. Be 100% committed – no one can ever criticise passion or commitment.

Interested in developing a relationship that will help you and your business to compete? Great, we look forward to working with you. Contact us.