[EAS]Team Work

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Wed Oct 3 18:33:32 EDT 2001

Subject:   Team Work

(from NewsScan Daily, 3 October 2001)

      Consultant Warren Bennis and reporter Patricia Ward Biederman
teamed  up to argue that in the future the mantle of leadership will
belong not to  extraordinary individuals but to people working
together in teams.
      "In a society as complex and technologically sophisticated as
ours, the most urgent projects require the coordinated contributions
of many talented people. Whether the task is building a global
business or discovering the mysteries of the human brain, one person
can't hope to accomplish it, however gifted or energetic he or she
may be. There are  simply too many problems to be identified and
solved, too many connections to be made. And yet, even as we make the
case for collaboration, we resist the idea of collective creativity.
Our mythology refuses to catch up with  our reality. We cling to the
myth of the Lone Ranger, the romantic idea that great things are
usually accomplished by a larger-than-life individual  working alone.
Despite the evidence to the contrary, we still tend to think  of
achievement in terms of the Great Man or Great Woman, instead of the 
Great Group.
      "But in a global society, in which timely information is the
most important commodity, collaboration is not simply desirable, it
is inevitable. In all but the rarest cases, one is too small a number
to produce greatness. A recent study of senior executives of
international  firms published by Korn-Ferry, the world's largest
executive search firm, and The Economist resoundingly confirms the
thesis that tomorrow's  organizations will be managed by teams of
leaders. Asked who will have the  most influence on their global
organizations in the next ten years, 61 percent responded 'teams of
leaders'; 14 percent said 'one leader.' That  does not mean, however,
that we no longer need leaders. Instead, we have to recognize a new
paradigm: not great leaders alone, but great leaders who exist in a
fertile relationship with a Great Group. In these creative alliances,
the leader and the team are able to achieve something together that
neither could achieve alone. The leader finds greatness in the group. 
And he or she helps the members find it in themselves."

See http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0201339897/newsscancom for 
"Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration," by Warren 
Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman -- or look for it in your local
library.  (We donate all revenue from our book recommendations to
literacy action  programs.)

A lesson frequently acknowledged and taught in engineering and
business courses at universities, but still a terribly difficult
precept for academics to live by personally, in a tenure value system
that rewards individual excellence and pays little heed to alternative
forms of excellence.  --PJK

More information about the EAS-INFO mailing list