Co-opetition and Integration

Matthew 25:14-30: “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 

Here in 2022, the final hot topic before we transition to a new series next week is a growing trend of what’s called co-opetition and integration. The scripture this week matters because we are called as leaders with resources to steward them well. Now in 2022, a growing trend is finding points within the value proposition of your products and services where you might cooperate or integrate with what were previously stakeholders, tangential companies/product/ services or even your competitors. This leads to the ability to deliver greater value and create stickiness with your customers. Where might you cooperate with your competitors to deliver even greater value? Or where might you leverage technology to integrate with stakeholders in ways which were not possible before?

Josh, The Consultant, worked for a health system which figured out this was just one of several ways they had to work together with their neighboring health systems. In a large urban area, where healthcare was a hyper-competitive industry, Josh worked for a pediatric health system which was geographically situated next to one of the largest county hospitals in the country and one of the top academic medical centers. After exploring a potential merger of the three institutions and finding it was not feasible, the organizations began working together on several strategic initiatives including the formation of the medical district. Josh grew this partnership from a board including three C-level executives from each institution to seven working groups across several functional areas (security, transportation, land use and zoning, etc) including members from the city, county, police and transportation. These emerging relationships enabled each of the leaders to more easily connect with each other and solve many common problems more easily. 

Why does this type of partnership matter? Value propositions and differentiation from competitors is difficult to generate and even harder to maintain – one way to do this in a sustainable way is to collect together a stream of value which crosses boundaries between service or product companies because it is not easily replicated. This delivers even greater value for the customer while keeping them engaged with your part of the value stream to create a longer, happier customer who will be potentially spending even greater wallet share with your company. 

How? There are three steps we would recommend to assess your co-opetition and integration opportunities: 

  1. Assess your market down to a product and service level – not a company level. Then identify which competitors exist by product or service and tangential products and services to each. This way you can identify what your products and services are today, what you might want to build in the next five years and where you might either partner (even with a competitor in one product) to meet a different market. Or where you might build partnerships with related companies/stakeholders offering products/services similar to yours and where you do not anticipate building in the next several years. 
  2. Build a one-page business case describing the value of potential partnerships, selecting those with the greatest combination of potential and ease to implement. 
  3. Approach various potential competitors and integrators with opportunities to explore working together and thoughtfully invite them into the process of building something together. 

We hope this inspires you to think more broadly about your resources and potential partnerships which could grow your business. What are some ways The Consultant and The Coach help their clients with co-opetition and integration? 

The Consultant

  • Advise a CEO and strategy team on their marketing analysis to a deeper level than typically is completed to look at the product and service level, rather than a company-level
  • Facilitate an evaluation process of which opportunities present the greatest potential value for the least amount of cost or effort
  • Lead or advise boards and executive teams in their outreach and formation efforts with potential companies. 

The Coach

  • Coach the CEO or executives on their own leadership deficiencies and how to build greater capacity to work with more partners and cooperate with competitors. 
  • Work with executive teams to understand their personal values and corporate values which best express their goals for the company. This firmer identity will enable better partnership considerations.