Put it all together and create your dream team.
- Most of the time, teamwork is harder than we think it's gonna be. You get a lot of people working together, the bigger the group, the slower we tend to get, the harder it is to communicate. But we work together because we can do more together. And we need each other. And yet, every once in awhile, we see in history these teams that we call dream teams, which are groups of people that do the impossible or can't be stopped. A lot of times we think of the, for example, 1992 men's Olympic basketball team, Team USA, how they were the unstoppable team.
No one could beat them. And yet when you look at these kinds of teams, there's more than meets the eye. It's not just about great players, all-stars being smashed together. That team, in particular, did not become what it was until certain dynamics changed, until the players learned that it wasn't about being the hero, it wasn't about everyone being the all-star. That they had to subject themselves for the good of the team. In particular, in that case, Magic Johnson, when he gave up the fact that he was gonna be the star and allowed Michael Jordan to be the star, and realized that his role would be to support him, in many ways, that was the turning point that turned that team into something incredible.
This is just a little example of what happens in teams that are better than we expect, where people do add up to more than the sum of their parts. It's not just about talent. It's not just about experience. It's about the subtle interactions, the way we work together, the way that we think about team over individual. A group of people that all think the same are only gonna be as smart as the smartest person in the group. So if you want a team that can solve problems, that can make breakthroughs and be smarter than whoever is the smartest person, the fact is, you need people with different things in their heads.
And there's two ways that cognitive differences break down in my definition. The first is perspectives, how you actually see things. In psychology this is how you encode the world or your experiences in your own internal language. But if you've lived different lives, if you've had different experiences, then you will see things differently. The second component is something called heuristics, which is how you approach problems or how you approach situations. Your rules of thumb, your strategies, things that you've learned. All this has to do with who we are at our core, and what we've lived through, when we've been included or not included, things that have happened to us, what we've learned, who we've been around.
But that is the starting point. If you want a group of people to be smarter than any one member, you need to have those differences. The bottom line is that being a good team player is a skill. Not just being good at your craft or your individual skill, but actually working together is one of those meta-skills that can make everything better.