No name has left a more indelible mark on strategic thinking in the late 20th century than Michael Porter. Executives throughout America and the world have studied his books, Competitive Advantage and Competitive Strategy. Porter's insights into gaining and sustaining competitive advantage are great, but critics contend there's one big problem with his body of work: the word "competitive." Isn't competition good? Yes, but not every company is your competitor. Advocates of the partnering school of thought have been quick to differentiate between companies with which you compete and those that are complementary. When a business considers everyone to be its enemy (or competitor), then almost all business relationships end up as win-lose situations in which the key is to avoid being exploited by the other company. In contrast, an eye for complementary business activities results in creating mutually beneficial, win-win partnerships.
Excerpted from Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management