Life is full of paradoxes that some say require balancing; however accepting an appropriate location on the paradox continuum, when dealing with the paradox conundrum, may be as good as it gets! An example of such a paradox follows:

  • One plus One Equals Two
  • One plus One Greater than Two

We all know from our early days in math class that the correct answer to the math problem – one plus one – is two. However we all learn, some faster than others, that when it comes to dealing with more complex problems the power of collaborating with other people can transform one plus one to greater than two. This can be as simple as collaborating with a friend in the sand-box to build a more sophisticated sand castle; or it can be as complex as working on a multinational team which is trying to develop a new drug for cancer, or trying to land humans on Mars.

This collaboration with other people however is not quite as simple as dealing with mathematics because it involves dealing with different people i.e. different personalities, different values, and different ways of behaving. There are many books and articles delineating the pros and cons of teams, e.g. Patrick Lencioni in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, outlines five factors that  hold a team back: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results; J.R. Hackman in his book, Leading Teams, sets out five basic conditions that must be fulfilled in order to create and maintain effective teams: they must be real, they need a compelling direction, they need enabling structures, they need a supportive organization and they need expert coaching.

Notwithstanding some of the challenges of teams, and the sensitivity of certain Egos,  it is abundantly clear that no matter how smart we are, or think we are, much more can potentially be accomplished by combining our talents with the talents of other people. When we do this effectively, one plus one will be greater than two and can tend to infinity if the people dynamics are optimized.

  • Teamwork leads to Optimal Outcomes      

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