There’s no I in TEAM

It’s a well known team-building mantra …but it’s not really true is it?

Every team is made up of a collection of individuals – so in fact there are many ‘i’s in every team.

Of course, as ‘r g‘ posts on Yahoo! Answers, the idea behind this saying is that Together Everyone Achieves More – the teaching is that team synergy allows a group of individuals to work together to achieve something greater than all of them could have achieved by working towards the same goal seperately.

And I’ve seen principle at work, so it’s true …but only as far as it goes.

One of the problems with rigidly applying this way of thinking is that it presupposes that each individual will set aside their personal interests and commit to focussing on the ‘group goal.’ But if you’ve worked in a team environment for any length of time, you’ll have encountered ‘office politics’ which exist only because most people (particularly those who have achieved a position of responsibility and power) are reluctant to completely set aside their personal agendas.

It seems to me that a more healthy team is one in which, in addition to working towards the goal(s) shared by the team, there is opportunity for individuals to work towards their own personal goal(s).

Someone recently posted an image on Facebook demonstrating exactly where in ‘TEAM’ you can find ‘I’. The humour may not be to everyone’s taste, so I won’t reproduce that image here – but the punchline is captured by this image1.
The i in TEAMPresented this way, the ‘i’ is obvious in this ‘TEAM’ …and yet the iilustration only really works because of the shape of the lettering in this image. The shape of space around the capital ‘A’ in many other typefaces really doesn’t work as well.

Which leaves me pondering the ‘shape’ of the teams that I work in…

Does the way we work allow individuals to be themselves or are people forced to work in a distorted way, a way they wouldn’t naturally choose, just to fit in with the rest of the team?

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  1. Image based on an original image from