Open letter to all printers in Nigeria; Making a case for Competition with collaboration as the new normal.

Nature has various methods of creating collaborative conditions that make life meaningful in the wild and one of them is “Mutualism”, I don’t have time for definitions today but the below examples will press home my point. The relationship between the Egyptian plover and the crocodile, for example, is a surprising one. Crocodiles as we know them are nature’s top most dangerous hunters, but on a sunny day it will chill with its mouth wide open. The plover flies into its mouth and makes a delicacy on decaying prey stuck in the crocodile’s teeth. The crocodile enjoys a dental treatment while the plover enjoys beneficial nutritious meal. Birds also are pretty good at mutualism. The oxpecker is often seen on the back of buffaloes, rhinos and zebras sustaining itself by devouring all the bugs and parasites that inhabit the skin of this animals, I don’t need to tell you what bugs can do if not tamed… At this point permit me to quote Daniel Christian Wahl (Author of Designing Regenerative culture) – “We need to shift from thinking about ‘competitive advantage’ to co-creating ‘collaborative advantage’ if we want to create a world that works for all. The converging crises and the potential for synergistic opportunities that societies everywhere — and humanity as a whole — are faced with are of a systemic nature and need systemic solutions” The new normal is a word that has been used so much in this season, special thanks to Mr. Tunde Obokhai of DCS Integrated Services, who in collaboration with CIPPON just successful concluded a webinar, which I personally found really explosive with lots of valuable take aways… I will also personally appreciate Kulture Image and its main pilot – Mr. Stanley Kumolu – Johnson who did set the tone for printing industry webinar. I hope to see more as this is definitely a new normal. One word stood out for me in the various webinars of the past weeks, that word is “Collaboration”.

Beloved Print Industry stakeholders, it is time to learn from nature. There is no room for competition, even though our school system is built to promote competition, and our printing business culture over the year has been characterised by price war, lack of cooperation and coordination with its avoidable disaster which has fuelled the unhealthy competition pandemic. A capital intensive industry where everyone wants to be self-sufficient in everything need to use the new normal to adjust our ways. From the webinar, equipment suppliers said they are willing to collaborate and be regulated for success by CIPPON (their regulatory body). This is a good development. Employees and employers are already working out new contracts and MOU in view of cooperation as a way to go rather than laying off valuable staff Even among professional printers, we are beginning to see that we have been reckless in procuring equipment’s that we don’t use often, the example that one of the contributors made was that he has equipment for producing calendars that is only used in the last quarter of every year and he rightly pointed that he would rather collaborate with printers who make that form of printing their core… Competition is all together going into a new phase, for the sake of this write up I will call it the “collaborative competition phase” and this does have many benefits, let me try to expand some of this benefits quickly 1. Collaborating for professionalism: As they say jack of all trade is the master of nothing, successful businesses are known for something. I like the Dangote name but even as diverse as that name may seem, it is known for something definitive by whoever is looking at that name. To some Dangote is cement, coming soon the name will be refinery to majority of car users. Let us look imagine a scenario of a collaborative competition between China and America, won’t China become more careful in sending substandard products to the world if there was a solid collaborative agreement with the world powers? 2. Collaboration for price control: Price war is rooted deeply and masked many times with the undertone of unhealthy competition… Meanwhile if I collaborate with you and treat you unfairly with my pricing I shouldn’t be surprised to hear that the price you offer me is higher than others. Isn’t the human conscience a wonderful thing? Be fair to me and I will be fair to you! 3. Collaboration for repeat business: Business will strive easily if the handlers projections are close enough to what is seen in the actual. If a calendar printer knows that his capacity to meet up the demand from his collaborators was a struggle the previous year, he or she will gladly invest to up the capacity for the sure business expected for the next year. In a similar scenario an engineer collaborating with an equipment supplier without a support team has no choice but to set up a proper after sales support organization to meet up with coming orders. No one will buy equipment’s that they have to struggle to support and at the same time no one will collaborate with engineers who don’t update their skills. The new normal in printing is collaboration if we are to survive. Covid-19 is again forcing us to learn from nature. Termites for instance have distinct clusters, distinct division of labour and obviously distinct professional groups with same problems for easier value addition. Then it make it easier to survive together. If everyone plays their part, we will definitely survive this difficult season. I hereby vote for collaboration and not competition as we know it. What about you? Lovely week ahead. Thoughts from: Akin Oduwole CE @ Technology Global

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