Don't be afraid of co-opetition

Friday, March 31, 2006 that the new watchword for the HME business? Calvin Cole, vice president of Hoveround Corp., thinks so. He called the other day to discuss the idea of co-opetition as a new paradigm for success in today's business environment.
The word co-opetition is obviously made up: an amalgamation of cooperation and competition. A quick Google search shows it's the title of a 1996 book and a Web site by Adam Brandenburger of Harvard Business School and Barry Nalebuff of Yale School of Management.
The Web site ( explains the concept this way:
Business is cooperation when it comes to creating a pie and competition when it comes to dividing it up. In other words, business is War and Peace. But it's not Tolstoy--endless cycles of war followed by peace followed by war. It's simultaneously war and peace. As Ray Noorda, founder of the networking software company Novell, explains: "You have to compete and cooperate at the same time." The combination makes for a more dynamic relationship than the words "competition" and "cooperation" suggest individually.
Part of the idea might also be expressed as "a rising tide lifts all boats" or "we should all hang together or we'll all hang separately." In today's tough business environment, who can argue with the need to look at new ways to achieve success?
So, in practical terms, how do we do this today in HME? On the cooperation side, there are things you can do to work with others in our business to promote our mutual success. Do you belong to your state association? Join and be active. Do you belong to AAHomecare? Join and be active. Do you belong to The VGM Group, The Med Group or Northwood? Find out what they're doing to support the industry locally and nationally and then take an active role working with them and your competition to get the message of the value of home care to governmental authorities at all levels.
On the competitive side, there are things you can do, too. Run your business smarter, in a general business way, but also be smarter about our industry. At the risk of being self-serving, go to and see how much market share you have in your state. Marshal the facts you need to be smart about opportunities.
Keep up-to-date on the latest developments in Washington D.C. and your state. Know what new products and technologies are entering the market by attending Medtrade and seeking the latest for your patients and your business.
If you haven't signed up for this year's HME Business Summit, go to and register. This year, more than ever, the sessions and data presented at the Summit will be critical to your future and will provide the competitive edge you need for success.
Do you have an idea about co-opetition? Let me know. I'd like to hear from you. hme