There is no "I" in team, but there are two in ideation!

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“There is no “I” in team.”

The origin of this quote is unknown, but it is widely used as a metaphor for explaining high performance groups, dream teams and team building. Michael Jordan, the NBA basketball star, has modified the quote to: "There is no "i" in team, but there is in winning."

A team, of course, is made of individuals. They have just agreed to tone down personal merits in favor of collective performance. In business as in sports; when the situation arises, the strongest “I” is expected to step forward and score for the team.

Many of us know the four group development stages "Forming, norming, storming and performing," defined by Dr. Bruce W. Tuckman and published in his 1965 article Developmental Sequence in Small Groups.  Later, these steps have become a de facto standard for team-building classes and facilitator training in organizations everywhere.

In most high-performance groups there is a lot of “storming” going on. Discussions back and forth. Testing. Trial and error. Failure. Wins. Maybe the personal strengths and weaknesses of everyone are allowed (and expected) to be more prevalent and visible in that stage in these groups?

And now, in the era of digital, everything has changed.

Employers are typically searching for team players.  Instead, they should be looking for individuals with the right knowledge and provide the digital platforms for them to go directly from logging in to performing. Then, we could coin the quote: “There is no “I” in team, but there are two in ideation.”

Happy brainstorming!

Rune NygardComment