I had the great fortune to listen to Steve Podborski, the first non-European World Cup Champion (1982), of the Crazy Canucks (CCs) ski team speak at a dinner a few years ago. I was reminded of this watching their story on the bio channel.
I remember Steve talking about one thing that made the CCs a team – their willingness to share what they knew and learned each and every day. You see, downhill skiing was (and in someways today still is) viewed as an individual sport not a team sport. The sport was dominated by Europeans. The Swiss and Austrian skiers of that time saw each other, including the teammates from their own countries, as competition. The CCs changed the way ski teams operated. Using technology (two way radios) the skiers that went down the hill ahead of you would call back up the hill with reports of the specific conditions a teammate was going to face.
As Steve puts it in the biography show, it was like saying “here’s how to run the course better – here’s how to beat me.” This collaboration contributed to their success on the world stage and accelerated their climb towards the top of the competitive field. Collaboration allowed them to accelerate their learning as a team and to change their pace of learning; out-pacing the competition. This helped them climb quickly through the ranks of world class skiers.
In our organizations today, sharing knowledge like this could greatly enhance our performance; even when we are in similar competitive positions. What if we turned our solo practices into team like the CCs did? What if we were as selfish?