image by unclebumpy, flickr artist

i recently came across a post on wired.com’s science section about american bullfrogs and their leaping ability. in short: when in the wild, bullfrogs have a certain expectation of maximum leaping distance which scientists have previously measured at 4.3 meters. however, at a county fair in california’s calaveras countytheir bullfrogs have been known to leap over 7 meters when involved in their frog jumping competitions. that’s quite an improvement!

in business, it seems everyone is focused on collaboration; on finding synergies and maximizing productivity. but what if we increasingly looked not towards collaboration on our teams, but towards competition? how would the game change then?

instead of placing an employee or a team on a specific task, why not place two employees or two teams on a task and have each work independently of each other? for the duration of the task in question, have periodic reviews — once every week or two weeks depending on the length of the overall task — where each presents their current progress. they will see what the other is doing allowing them to recognize where they’re stronger, identify areas for improvement, and (most importantly) learn from the other.

this kind of competition may hurt burn rates on billable hours for a project but it might just be worth it when you take a look at the big picture. this friendly joustingbetween employees working on the same task could lead to more innovation, better products for the client, different options for the client, and an incentive system that’s actually based on something (winning ‘competitions’).

i understand that this method might not work in all situations, but if you can find a way to implement it just think about how much your organization and clients could benefit.

don’t you want to find out how far can you jump?