What does it mean to win?

160-Features-tech-war-5Fast Company magazine did an interesting series this month on who will “win” the tech war of 2012.  Though I received a copy with Larry Page on the cover saying that Google would win, they sent out other covers randomly with Steve Jobs saying Apple would win, Mark Zuckerberg saying Facebook would win and Jeff Bezos saying Amazon would win.  So, this has me thinking about this concept of “winning”. What does it even mean?  Ok, in the presidential election of 2012 there will be a winner. When only one man (yes, I am being sexist but not being sexist means Michelle Bachmann is present so I will take sexism) can win, that means someone has to win.  But with business does someone really need to win?

I just finished the Steve Jobs biography which reminded me a lot of the constant and incessant discussions back in the day about whether Apples’ fully integrated vertical model or Microsoft’s open horizontal model would “win”.  The end result was both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates admitting (however grudgingly) that both models worked.  Here is the thing, yes companies merge, but even so lots of companies exist.  I don’t mean to be a cooperative play preschool teacher here but you winning doesn’t mean that I need to lose.

The problem with the win/lose paradigm is that it is rather disheartening for the small business.  In a world where there is only one winner, playing seems rather hopeless.  How can I “win” when I am so small and others are so large?

You know what I think?  I think that at the end of 2012 Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon will exist and will be profitable.  So really, doesn’t that mean they will all win?  But, I guess we will see if I am clueless next December.