Eighteen years of work as owners of a small high tech business have taught us that we are the ones who must make sales and deliver products because no one else will

If we do not do this, we go out of business.  Period.  Procrastinating — blaming others or pointing to financial problems in the marketplace — does not keep the company going.   In order to stay in business we have to constantly be focused on successfully delivering product.  This requires not only a commitment to our core expertise and value proposition but also a keen and vigilant understanding of the marketplace. 

 As a small business whose products are often delivered as part of a larger integrated product offering, it means we have to work well with others. Sometimes this means working well with our direct competitors.  Yesterday’s competitor is often tomorrow’s partner. 

It is an interesting teaming dynamic to work collaboratively with people who in other situations are competitors.  I imagine this dynamic is much like the U.S. Olympic Basketball Team.  Basketball players spend entire seasons competing against each other.  At the time of the Olympics, however, the green, gold, purple and yellow jerseys are put aside for red, white and blue in order to address a common goal and deliver a winning effort. 

 When we do work on an integrated product team with other businesses, the customer has a need and expects us to work as a team to deliver a solution.  Successful delivery is then dependent on respectfully working with our teammates to find common ground from which to collaboratively deliver an integrated product that meets our customer’s needs.  In order to be successful, we must respect not only the different product offerings from other businesses but also different business approaches and opinions of what will be successful.  At the same time our own successful participation in this collaboration requires that we remain true to our company’s core expertise and value contribution to the solution.

 Our political leaders would do well to embrace these lessons. 

While remaining true to and proud of the values that define their individual team jerseys, it is time for them to collaborate on red, white and blue opportunities.  What we as their customers should require is not more speeches and complaining about what is wrong with their teammates from across the aisle, but more action on how they are going to define and deliver integrated solutions to our country’s economic and political challenges.

 Diversity and difference of opinion are what make our country interesting.  Respectfully working together to deliver the best solutions based on those varied inputs is what makes our country great. 

ML Mackey is co-founder and chief executive of Beacon Interactive Systems, a Cambridge, Mass.-based software company.