"We" Are Better Than "Me".. Really?


Have you ever wondered why team-players are so valued in organizations? Is it because it is proven that the collective wisdom of the team is better than the individuals? Or is the concept of "collective wisdom" just an urban myth? Is there any data to prove that a bunch of people will produce better results in a team than if they were performing the same task individually?

These were the questions that Professor Cameron Anderson and Laura Kray forced us to understand and appreciate during a session on Team Effectiveness. As it turns out, teams may not be as effective as the sum of the individuals. The "gains" that might have been obtained by operating as a team, are soon nullified by the "losses" which occur due to lack of coordination, motivation and ability.

Given the paradox, we then looked at frameworks and practices that actually enable teams to perform better. One of the most interesting observations was the "Five-to-One" ratio, which states that a team must have five positive interactions for every negative one. If it’s lesser, they may slip into a conflict mode and if greater they suffer productivity loss. Funnily enough, it’s true even in marriages! Those marriages where the couples have an interaction ratio of less than 5:1 usually end up in divorces!!!

In the end, each study group was encouraged to reflect and layout their own schemes for performing well together. Each team then came out with a team contract that articulated the missions, goals and accountability for the group. It’s a live document to remind us how, as a team we can motivate each other to achieve successful outcomes, and resolve conflict directly in a timely manner.


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