Competition or Collaboration ?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

One of the challenges I have faced in the transition from the financial services world to the non-profit arena is reconsidering the appropriate balance between competition and collaboration. When I worked for Citibank and Price Waterhouse, competition was intense. It was a zero-sum game. We win; you lose, or vice versa.

Soon after I arrived at Gladney, I heard that placements had declined at another leading agency. My immediate reaction was: “Yes !” but I quickly caught myself and realized this was misguided. Fewer placements at any agency means fewer families created and fewer children helped. That’s not an outcome I or anyone would want to see. The cliché “a rising tide lifts all boats” applies.

As international adoption has become more competitive due to a shrinking market, Gladney has sought out other agencies with similar values in an effort to collaborate within legal and ethical boundaries. If well-intentioned agencies can work together to improve the practices in international adoption, everyone wins.

So, are we competitors or collaborators ? Well, both. We want to work together collegially, but I still want Gladney to be the best !

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