We must always wish for collaborators — and not cooperators — because collaborators have a vested interest in a shared success, while cooperators have nothing to lose, but they are always around to suckle on the win.

A year ago, in my article — Perils of Collaboration — I finished my argument with this consideration:

To truly collaborate, we need to be offended and horrified by what we sense in our possible collaborators, because only a personal threat to our current safety of thinking can expand the creative process into something special and memeingful beyond the initial dyad.

If we continuously challenge who we are and what we think we know — then we begin to go past the horizon of belief in our own reality to create a whole new hyper-state with an inherited set of core values and wants — and that makes us grander, and more sustainable, in every sense.

Collaborators can be frustrating because they have a stake in your success or demise — their names and reputations are tied to you — and together, you must find a way forward out of the abyss of nothingness, but collaborators are always better for you than cooperators because a cooperator can cooperate you right over the edge and into failure without a whim of guilt from them or a whiff of grime on them.

The danger in the cooperator is that you never really know which interest they are serving.  Are they on your side?  Their side?  Some non-disclosed side?

Cooperators are there for the churn — and that’s where they make their froth — for cooperators have no human links, or historic chains, and yet they can sink you faster than an anchor in deep water as “Yes Men” and as agreement agitators.  Cooperators are not interested in ideas, or in trickling-down the merits of hard work — they are just there to scrape by, collect their vig — and move on to the next Nodding Head Experience.

You may not like your collaborator, but your cooperator is always out to get you — and that means you need to love the one you may despise and be revolted by the one always interested in your demise.


  1. David,

    When I was at Rutgers and we’d do group projects it was too clear who was collaborating in the group and who was a mere cooperator – they would show up and nod along dumbly but never really help!

  2. This is interesting thinking. It makes sense that you need to work with people who are at least risking as much as you. If they aren’t that invested, then what are they doing there?

    1. That’s a good point, Anne. Only work with those who want to make something greater — and never be a cooperator — even if you’re marginalized into one.

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