Coopertition Story

I experienced something last week that you all may enjoy hearing about.

Kokomo Economic Development group asked me to give a speech on the creation and lessons learned in creating AndyMark. I’ve given this speech many times locally, and it seems to be well received.

One of my lessons learned is to work with other companies within the market in order to grow the market. If the pie is bigger, then all of our pieces of pie are bigger. I use the example John Abele gave me many years ago about how the pace maker manufacturers had to work together back in the 60’s in order to get the market (doctors and patients) to accept this technology and therefore grow the market.

After the presentation, one of the local entrepreneurs came up to me and we had this conversation:

Them: “There’s a word for that, you know.”
Me: “What do you mean?”
Them: “When competitors collaborate, there is a word for that.”
Me: “OK”
Them: “It’s called coopertition. It’s a new term in business!”
Me: “Well, that’s cool. Coopertition was founded within FIRST, and it serves as part of FIRST’s mission. I know the guys who created that word!”

It’s a small world.

Andy B.

Feeling all warm and fuzzy on the inside!

Thanks for sharing Andy, I love these kind of stories.

This form of competitive cooperation helps to accelerate growth in new and interesting ways. I was recently at a conference for my company and these were the shirts they were giving away symbolizing our collaboration with another company that we are actually fiercely competitive with:

Full size image link:

All I can think of when seeing this shirt is the game Rampage:

Thanks for sharing Andy.

Coopertition often reminds me of the “Economics/Business” example that the Prisoner’s Dilema Wikipage talks about relative to cigarettes and advertising.

Which invariably leads me to remember Axlerod’s behaviors of winning iterative PD algorithms have which are:
“By analysing the top-scoring strategies, Axelrod stated several conditions necessary for a strategy to be successful.
The most important condition is that the strategy must be “nice”, that is, it will not defect before its opponent does (this is sometimes referred to as an “optimistic” algorithm). Almost all of the top-scoring strategies were nice; therefore, a purely selfish strategy will not “cheat” on its opponent, for purely self-interested reasons first.
However, Axelrod contended, the successful strategy must not be a blind optimist. It must sometimes retaliate. An example of a non-retaliating strategy is Always Cooperate. This is a very bad choice, as “nasty” strategies will ruthlessly exploit such players.
Successful strategies must also be forgiving. Though players will retaliate, they will once again fall back to cooperating if the opponent does not continue to defect. This stops long runs of revenge and counter-revenge, maximizing points.
The last quality is being non-envious, that is not striving to score more than the opponent.”

Which if you replace “retaliating” with being competitive/not a push-over… you would have:
Be: Nice, Competitive, Forgiving, and Non-Envious

Which in my mind is a solid construct of coopertition, and a great set of guidelines to follow to have an enjoyable FRC Event.

There’s a great, interactive explanation/simulation of these concepts here:

Maybe no one was willing to state it, or maybe everyone missed it because it was obvious, but the takeaway here is:

FIRST is changing the world!

IIRC, that’s what it’s all about.

They coined a term that is now being used for something that has an example of being done in the 60s.


I have 3 stories about coopertition as well. Firstly one of my friends works at a restaurant called Brown’s, due to an accident the building burned to the ground and will not be able to be used for a few months. Unfortunately there is a fair coming up for restaurants in the area and they cant use their kitchen for it since it was burned. Luckily a competitor (I forget who) is letting them use their kitchen for the event and during the fire they called Brown’s to let them know about the fire since no one was there at the time since it was closed. BTW the fire was noticed by police officers who parked there to watch for speeders.

My second story is back during FIRST stronghold my team (5556) was testing our bot but could not test all defenses since we could not afford to build them so team 4909 let us bring our bot to their field and let us test their. They actually gave us some rubber tracks for our ball grabber that allowed us to get through defenses and grab balls easier allowing us to win against them in a later match. Since then my team has loved 4909 and help them when we are able. And as safety captain at every competition they are usually the first team I talk to about safety for the awards and such and I have nominated them several times.

My third story is that I work at Goodwill and our competitor Home goods shares their parking lot with our employees to allow us to have more space for customers to park in ours and letting our employees be able to park more easily. A while ago a customer stole a cart from home goods and we ended up returning the cart for them. And whenever either of us are hiring we recommend people to work at our competitor and when one of our employees quit we tell them they should work at our competitor.