Like most children, my kids enjoyed playing soccer, basketball, baseball and other team sports when they were young. Sometimes, I would coach their teams.During those years, my job was preparing market studies and teaching economics – especially the benefits of competitive markets. Most of my work was focused on the industrial real estate markets. Evenings and weekends, I coached sports. For several years, I wondered why all sports and games keep score the same way. I questioned why the scoring system in sports is so different from the way we measured success in work.The only way one sports team could win was if the other team lost. The first question most of the kids heard when they arrived home was “Did you win?” The children learned that winning was the goal, the measure of success. Therefore, the other team was the barrier.Although commercial real estate is a highly competitive sector of the economy, not all of the dealings are win-lose contests. In fact, most transactions are not win-lose. Most deals require collaboration among people from several different sides: buyer and seller as well as the technical services – legal, financial, engineering, etc.A successful deal ends with the buyer and seller walking away both feeling like a winner. A healthy transaction is one in which both sides benefit. The buy-sell agreement is entered into because both parties feel it is in their interest to make the deal.The agents are trying to structure win-win relationships. Either both sides succeeded – otherwise both sides fail.In the short run, one side may “win” by damaging the other. For example, the seller may trick the buyer into overpaying for the transaction. What I learned by working 16 years in industrial real estate is that in the long run, trickery comes back to the damage of the trickster.As I considered the lessons I learned in the market, I wondered why there weren’t more opportunities for children to experience winning on a win-win basis. The more I coached, the more the questions grew:• We have games that score our ability to compete against each other. Can we score our ability to cooperate with each other?• We know how to measure competitive skill. Can we use similar processes to score cooperative skill?• Since we can invent new games, what kind of games do we need to score cooperation?• What effect does the way we keep score have on the system of values we give children?• Is there an advantage to scoring the ability to bring out the best in others?• Can we create a greater ability to appreciate diversity by scoring cooperation?• Does scoring cooperation improve our understanding of competition?• What games do we want to give to our children?
For the past twelve years I have been working on practical answers to these questions by developing a method of measuring cooperative performance that can be used in new versions of baseball, basketball, chess, checkers, and spelling bees.
The thesis is that we can increase peace and productivity by playing games that score cooperation. If children grow up understanding cooperation as clearly as they now understand competition, they will have the tools needed to create a more tolerant and peaceful society.
My personal goal is to learn how to apply these ideas more effectively in my own life. I have a long way to go, but I see ways that these games have helped me be a better husband, father, and worker.
If I had grown up playing both kinds of games – traditional win-lose games and games that score on a win-win basis – I suspect that I would be more successful in family life and work life.
I hope that my grandchildren will grow up with the opportunity to play in leagues that use EnTeam sports and games. I believe these games can help them and their communities to be more peaceful and more productive.
With that goal in mind, I am working to establish leagues in which children learn by playing with new games that score cooperative performance that they can measure collaboration as accurately and fully as they can measure competition – and they can have fun in the process.
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