When We Win Alone, We Lose

This is part seven of our series where we share Heartwood’s founding principles. The first in the series, Building the Business vs. Making the Quarter, and more can be found here.

We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose” – said famously by a guy called Steve.

People focus too much on ‘winning’, especially against others. And today’s business language promotes this obsession by using poorly worded success terms like ‘killed it, nailed it,” or “crushed it”. WHY is anybody, anything or any game being killed, maimed, or destroyed? Why is this even desirable?

It’s possible that the now popular business strategy advising folks to ‘start, sell and exit’ in two years time might warrant some of this thinking, though I find both to be of questionable value.


No one really wins when you are the only one winning.

CUP0015290When you look at companies that have endured the test of time and built something to last beyond the founding team, those companies have been centered on an entirely different set of values – one that revolves around customers and users, and on winning together. And it makes a lot more sense, intuitively.

Seeking to constantly win destroys both personal and professional relationships, making us overly competitive and unpleasant to be around. And it’s a lonely game.

As Seth Godin so appropriately words it, instead of playing the short or long game, we should strive for the ‘Infinite’ game, as the point is to keep playing, not winning. And how can you keep playing if you’re the only player on the field? You can’t.

Fun fact: I bet most of us would agree that when we played as kids, the sad part wasn’t losing the game, it was when we had to go home.

Just look at what Elon Musk did with Tesla’s patents. Instead of hoarding the technology and ‘crushing’ the competition, Tesla realized they will do much better in the long run or, more apt, in the ‘Infinite’ run, by furthering the cause of the electric vehicle industry as a whole.

The larger rival is not other electric carmakers, you see – but the status quo. Tesla needs to combat the mindset of customers still stuck on gasoline. By opening up patents and encouraging other carmakers to advance along with them, they ALL WIN.

This is especially true in Blue Ocean markets (untapped, virgin, new markets). In our context, using virtual interactive/immersive technology to train for serious, complex tasks is not still the norm, but it is rapidly gaining momentum. While we could fritter away our time one-upping competitors on features, thousands of customers would go unserved – and that benefits no one. So instead of focusing on our competition, we focus on our customers.

This may sound counter intuitive, but much like Musk, we believe that there is no such thing as winning alone. We realize that if only one player survives – that player eventually loses – since limited evangelism leads to limited market growth.

live_long__and_prosper_by_dangilman-d72rn6mSo we invite our industry peers in Training & Simulation to join us in evangelizing our shared goals, for all of us are more powerful than any one of us.

And to our competitors, we imbibe Vulcan and say ‘Live Long & Prosper’.

Read our ‘founding principles’ series to learn more about Heartwood’s culture and how it positively impacts our work.

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