What? As I reflect on our reading of Group Dynamics and Team Interventions I cannot help but think about many of the lessons learned in the context of successful sports teams. The famous athlete Kareem Abdul-Jabbarr once said “one man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.” In my opinion, all of the interventions, approaches, and strategies we have learned, to help us better manage teams, are all for naught if we do not have individuals on the team who are cooperative and committed to accomplishing a goal.
So What? With reference to the previous quote, the most talented or most well-funded sports teams don’t always win. In sports, everybody loves the underdog who comes back for the win or the “cinderella story” as we aptly describe them. Typically, when these underdogs win, the first thing we hear from players is how close and tightly bonded the team was and how that contributed to their success. Thus, tight bonds, in this instance can help a team overcome the lack of resources and contribute to team success or synergy. These tight bonds characterize a cohesive team that developed synergy and as a result was high performing and successful.
Now what? Sports teams provide a useful context to study many of the concepts we have learned in this class. I realize cohesion and collaboration were not included in this unit of study, but I believe in order for any team to rise to the occasion and develop synergy the individuals that comprise the team need to be cooperative, which in turn can contribute to cohesion, which can overcome a lack of resources and lead to synergy. In my opinion, the path to synergy is heavily influenced by cooperative partners and cohesive teams. Thus, the importance of providing an environment where teams can bond and develop cooperative partnerships before beginning their work can contribute to team performance and success. Creating this type of environment can be accomplished through the use of interventions like ropes courses, conflict management procedures, adopting a team design mentality, and mediation, which are advanced by Franz (2012) to improve cooperative behavior. Going forward, I have developed a better understanding of why building cooperative team can contribute to the process of synergy and will apply this knowledge in my team work. For example, a team I worked on in Extension completed a ropes course together before beginning our work. I must admit, at the time, I thought it had no value, but now I understand the premise behind the ropes course as it was trying to develop our team into a cooperative and cohesive unit. Looking back, I must say that this team was one of the most successful teams I have ever worked on. Therefore, the next team with which I work, I plan to suggest a team bonding activity before our work begins as well as adopting the team design mentality advanced in the literature. I believe these are the first steps in developing cooperative partners and cohesive teams, which can lead to synergy.