Teamwork - A Common Goal

>> Friday, August 7, 2009

Relax Max pointed out, correctly, that NASA was most effective because the whole team involved was completely devoted to the same goal. He has a valid point and it's pertinent to the discussion.

Assemble the best team in the world, it won't do a lick o' good if they aren't striving for the same goal. Want a team where putting egos aside and real teamwork is most likely to occur, even with diverse personalities? It better be something they believe in passionately.

I think many of the great accomplishments in the path (performed by teams) were the result of people believing passionately in a goal and putting aside everything, egos, personal gain, personal fame, in order to make it so. Other fairly damn decent accomplishments were made by people who felt what they worked for was worth the effort.

It's one reason the sense of unity is never stronger than when fighting what appears as a just war - one Pearl Harbor and everyone is willing to make a sacrifice to address the threat (in fact, an external threat is a great way to put everyone on the same page).

Actually, that's one of the things that can be quite fearsome about this tendency. When people believe in something, they are often willing to sacrifice, to do anything to make something so. That belief doesn't have to be logical or correct or reasonable. The passion is the key. Since fear and hatred are often among the most passionate emotions, teams gathered out of a joint hatred or fear can often result in terrible things. These teams are often the most driven because they are so passionate. Like Al Quaida. Like the IRA.

But it can be wonderful too. People driven by the notion taking man into space (and the team anxious to one-up us in the Soviet Union) took us to the surface of the moon in one generation.

And that absence of that passion, that lack of shared vision or dedication to a common goal (if not sharing the opinions on how to get there) is, I believe, one of the things that make our government so ineffective right now (and, in fact, for some time). The people making decisions aren't nearly so interested in accomplishing good things as they are in looking good, in taking credit for progress (or even for obstruction). You don't have to be a genius in teamwork to know that that's a piss-poor recipe for teamwork.


  • Aron Sora

    I agree with you, but wouldn't having a shared vision for America be a very difficult thing to implement. We are a melting pot so we might all have different values and backgrounds. The only way I see America having a common, non-war based goal is if we had a multi-generational plan. But, I don't thing our nation has the persistence to carry out any multi-generational plan.

  • Stephanie B

    The problem, in my opinion, Aron, is that, often even if they all agree there's a problem, they can't work as a team to make it happen, because the goal (fixing the problem) is secondary to making themselves look good. So they posture or insist on making changes, even obstruct if they think torpedoing solutions will win them points, anything to get some headlines or publicity and look like they're working.

    This works even on topics where everyone agrees something must be done (and is not the bailiwick of any specific party - they all do it).

    Because what they're (supposed to be) working for isn't more important than their own image, they often subvert, corrupt or even make meaningless laws that could do a lot of good if they'd really been working together.

    This can also work to allow bad decisions to move forward if these same folks think objecting to a piece of literature will make them look bad, even if they disagree with it.

    What they believe in (if there is anything remaining of what they believe in) is too often lost in the "politics" of showing off and me, me, me.

  • The Mother

    And it will continue to be ineffective as long as party politics and special interests rule the roost and the day.

  • bozzle

    I'm not even sure we can lay all or even most of the blame on our elected representatives.

    I know that if you gather together 50 random citizens and try to discuss health care reform, economic stimulus plans, the war in Iraq, et cetera, there will be a percentage who are completely uninformed on the issues; a percentage who are informed but biased due to political, personal, or religious influences; a percentage who are actually misinformed by those with a strong agenda to disrupt any successful change to the status quo; and a small percentage who are truly informed but realize that there are no quick fixes or easy answers to any of these issues.

    With the public being so at odds with each other, it's almost impossible for their representatives to accurately represent them.

    I don't know that there is so much an absence of passion in the current administration, as much as being spread too thin. It's like sending in 10 firemen to stomp out a 300 acre wildfire. Add to that the obstruction taking place, and the task becomes even more impossible.

  • Phyl

    I agree that citizens are often varied in their opinions and their passions, yet vision on the part of the leaders and representatives can often ignite the citizens and draw them in. The current leaders -- both in your country and mine -- are all concerned mainly with having power (and being re-elected), and from what I can see, concerned with almost nothing else. I've often thought most of them would be happy to see the world go down in a blaze of glory, just as long as they got to ignite the blaze and have the glory as it burned.

    As to the "Passion" being used both for wonderful endeavours as well as hateful ones, the premise of one of my own stories is that the strong emotion isn't the problem, but the difficulty is how we use it. The same basic passion that created the space program or the Sistine Chapel also created the Holocaust.

  • Aron Sora


    But, we are doing it now, and we are being civil about it. What is different is there from the people who commented here (and the writer) and the general public?

  • Stephanie B

    The Mother, I fear you are right.

    Bozzle, Aron makes a salient point and I can't improve on it. There's no reason why people can't work together if they aren't being manipulated with hate and fear.

    Phyl, agreed. Excellent examples.

    Aron, well put.

  • Relax Max

    What a thought-provoking post! I found myself agreeing with just about everything you said (except for the last paragraph, of course - but that's just me and my different point of view.) I agree with you that passion is key but that it can be sometimes misdirected to a destructive goal as well as a positive goal.

    Bravo on understanding (and articulating) the essence of teamwork.

  • Stephanie B

    Given your disgust for government (and politicians), I'm surprised you caviled at the last paragraph.

    But I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

  • Relax Max

    I don't cavil. I just don't think government should be making decisions about our goals in the first place. It is up to us to tell THEM what our goals are. Can you imagine how bad it would be for us if they were NOT ineffective? Whoa. And the executive branch doesn't need a vision for America. They only need good ears and a will to execute what WE want. Hardly cavilling...

    But you would know, since you are the expert at that. :)

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