What Really Counts In Making A Good Team

By Gaia Grant


Building a dream home isn’t always a dream. In fact, some friends or ours suffered hell when they tried to build the house of their dreams. As time went by, the promised months turned into years, the budget blew out of all proportion, and every step of the way had to be checked and rechecked. There were often disastrous results, sections of the house that had been completed but then had to be pulled apart and redone. Even the finished result was far from the quality the owners had expected.

When we visited the house for the first time, our friends urged us to look closely and notice all the faults: Tiles that didn’t quite line up with the cupboards. Wooden floors with significant gaps. Window and door frames that were out of alignment.

What had gone wrong? Apparently each of the contractors had arrived independently and completed their job independently. Apparently none of them had really checked with the others how their work was going to fit in with the overall plan. They had, it seemed, each built in isolation. It wouldn’t have mattered how perfect each section was. If each element wasn’t successfully combined with the other elements, then the standard of the house as a whole would be affected, and the house would not perform its intended function.

Whenever the owners had approached the tradesmen about some poor workmanship, the tradesmen would inevitably exclaim that they had done the job they had been asked to do: They had tiled the floor. Or built the cupboards. Or laid the gyprock. Apparently it didn’t bother them that the floor tiles didn’t actually extend as far as the walls. Or the cupboard didn’t neatly slot into the space that had been left for them by the gyprockers. Or the gyprock didn’t line up with the ceiling.

They all had, unfortunately, not seen the importance of their contribution to the complete project. They had not bothered to cooperate to produce the best overall result.


In groups, it is not what we achieve as individuals, but how well we combine our efforts that will produce the best results. Each person has their own individual, specialised role to play, but without a coordination of efforts and a similar overall goal, the completed picture is incomplete.

Over 1 million individual parts make up an airplane, but each part is not the plane in itself. It is not the individual parts of a plane, but the completed construction that makes it work and gives it definition. The identity of the airplane exists only in the function and design of the whole.

Similarly, it is not the individual links that make up a network, but the complex channel between them. It is not the individual people within a group or organisation that make it work and give it definition, but the way they interact that is important. The identity exists only in the function and design of the whole. This is the human network.

Imagine the potential when talented individuals learn to work together effectively. Dreams can become reality.

©2001 Gaia Grant


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