What is the difference between a team and a group of people? Can we call any group of people a team? Obviously not. So, does a common purpose make a team? Well, mobs have common purpose - and we don't call mobs teams...
So what is a team? In a team-building programme I attended, Maj. Gen Oberoi, a former Indian Army person said that TEAM means Together Everyone Achieves More. Indeed. No team was ever built without synergy. A team which does not inspire its members to go beyond their potential is not a team.
Why am I bringing this up? Well, today, on Aaj Tak, the nine finalists of "Indian Idol" were with our Army jawans, trying to go through a simple obstacle course. They were quite successful at it too. That reminded me of my own experience with an obstacle course in a team-building programme I attended. We were faced with physical tasks which I thought were impossible to perform, at least by non-professionals. In addition, even one member failing in the task would mean that the entire team lost. Surprisingly, each member in the team rose to the occasion. We completed the tasks with more than enough time to spare and boy, were we pleased with ourselves!?
What made that team work? I wish I knew. I do know that the people in the team led by example. No one would ask the others to do a task which they wouldn't do themselves (think Dravid v/s Ganguly). Everyone wanted to win - each one of us had a thirst to quench (think Indian team under Ganguly/Wright or Dravid/Chappell). No one wanted to be a drag on the others - in other words, no one wanted to be a passenger. We would navigate - or we would row. There was no third choice.
Now the question is: How do you make this happen in the work place? How do you deal with people's egos, their problems, and their prejudices? How do you create a team of individuals whose effect is greater than the sum of their potential? How do you bring together people from disparate backgrounds and weave them together in a manner that a friend likened to this: "Individual threads of silk are all very beautiful, but they pale in comparison to the beauty of the saree"
I really don't know. And I can say with utmost sincerity that I haven't come across such a team ever again. And I don't know if I ever will.
Three cheers to that team!
(PS: To get back to my standards, let me just point out that team and meat are mirror-images of each other. So do teams have meat? :D)