We have all learned in mathematics that the complexity of an equation increases exponentially as the number of variably increases. In the same way, when performing a task, the complexity of the job increases exponentially as the number of individuals increases. It becomes more and more important that they work in a coordinated manner. If the individual members do not work together in harmony, the task cannot be performed successfully, no matter how capable each individual member is.
That’s why people often joke that one Indian is equal to two Japanese. Now if this is the case, then logic tells us that two Indians should be equal to four Japanese, and three Indians should be equal to six Japanese and so on. But what happens in reality is that one Indian is equal to two Japanese, but two Indians are equal to only one Japanese. Why? Because one Indian works fine alone, but when two Indians get together they usually end up fighting for supremacy. They cancel each other out and the single Japanese comes out ahead.
This is just a joke about Indians, but in reality, it can be applied to any group of people that don’t work together as a team. Group work increases the necessity of teamwork.
On the other hand, if the members can manage to overcome individual differences and work together as a team; if there is harmony among all; if all are working together in sync – then the members as a whole can do much, more than the individual could do alone. It thus follows from the universal concept that the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.
No single part of a plane can fly on its own. Throw up the wing of an aircraft and it will tumble down to the ground. Throw up the tail, or the fuselage, or even the engine and each will fall to the ground. But now, assemble all the parts into one specific shape – the shape of an airplane – let them work together as a team and the same parts which fall when on their own, can fly through the sky.
No singe part of a large ship can float on its own. Throw the nuts and bolts of a ship into water and they will sink. Throw the hull, or the propeller, or the rudder and they too will sink. But assemble all the parts into the shape of a ship and let them work together and the same parts, which would normally sink, will float on water. As the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.
Since ours is a professional networking site, I do not desire to give this article a spiritual twist. While maintaining professionalism, let me narrate a simple story narrated by Yogiji Maharaj, a mystic from Swaminarayan sect. Once some doves were happily feeding on some seeds when all of a sudden, a bird-catcher’s net fell on them and trapped them. Immediately, all the doves started screaming and flapping their wings in confusion.
But then one leader dove got up and told the others, Listen ! If we flap our wings like this randomly, we won’t be able to lift the net. Let’s become one and flap together with synchronicity. When they did this they were able to lift the net. They all descended on a distant tree and the net remained stuck on the branches and all the doves escaped.
No single dove on its own was capable of lifting the net. But when they worked as a team they accomplished what was impossible for any individual dove to achieve. The whole is always greater than the sum of the parts. The example of Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Quit India’ movement, Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption drive and ‘Jasmine revolution’ in the arab world are few best examples which illustrates the wonders of teamwork.
That is why teamwork is so very important when we want to successfully complete a job or project. But, of course, teamwork doesn’t come on it’s own. Teamwork isn’t a product which can be forced from people like eggs from a chicken under floodlights. In order to bring harmony and grace to the project, each individual has to contribute and sacrifice something.
In general, the recipe for teamwork consists of three main ingredients; a goal, a role, and a toll:
1. There has to be a common goal among the members. Because, even though, the members of the team have different views, even though they come from different backgrounds, even if they have different ambitions, this common goal is the glue which unites all the members of the team.
2. The members of the team have to play their role. A common goal is not enough. Every member of a football team has a common goal – they want to win the game. But that doesn’t mean they will be able to work together. Something more is needed – and that something has to do with the individual player’s role. If the team is to be successful, each member has to play his role properly.
3. The members have to pay a toll i.e. something to be sacrificed. And lastly, in addition to having a common goal and playing one’s role properly, teamwork’s most important ingredient is : sacrifice. Each individual member has to be ready to give up something for the good of the whole. In a successful team, the goal is greater than the individual.
So, as we have seen, the recipe for teamwork consists of three main ingredients:
1. A common goal
2. Playing our role properly
When a group or a team works with these three qualities, there is practically no limit to what it can accomplish.
Truly, coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, but working together is teamwork.