Teams, Athletic and Non- LO6844

jack hirschfeld (
Sat, 20 Apr 1996 21:50:19 -0400

Replying to LO6793 --

Barry Maillis said,

>Yes, Jack, I certainly had those sports teams in mind, and didn't think
>that anyone would NOT take mental note of their existence (sorry for the
>double whatchamacallit). I'm not certain how you meant your observation.

Well, I didn't actually "mean" anything, I thought, but since there is a
thread hanging loose on the list about making assumptions explicit, I'll
take a moment to try to be clearer. (This might be a bit long-winded, so
short message types should probably hit -delete- now. :-)

I frequently find that when I examine many of the things that people say
as though they were obvious ("self-evident truths?") - they are
contradicted by my own experience. Thus, when Barry asked "where are the
teams in our high schools?" (or words to that effect which I assumed
expressed his view that there aren't any), my mental eyes went immediately
to the playing fields. Most schools have programs which teach
collaboration and teamwork: team sports of course, but also "band",
"orchestra", "glee club", "chorus", etc. In short, collaboration and
teamwork are mainstays of "extra-curricular activity." (This may be one
reason that such activities - which often involve very hard work - are so

Few schools, I've found, are willing to apply the same methods to
"academics" because, I believe, of the way competition is defined in the
educational system. Students are expected to to have "school spirit" - to
identify with the school and to support it even after they have left, as
an institution of the common - and are encouraged to compete with other
schools. In this way school identity is projected as a cohesion factor, I
believe, which gives rise to very well-developed team behaviors.

As individual students, however, we are encouraged to compete with each
other. Scholarships and honors (and grades) are not given to teams, and
perhaps more important, jobs and appointments certainly are not. This
might begin to change soon: I won't be surprised if some of the corporate
research labs begin to hire whole teams of students who successfully
engage in corporate-funded research projects on campus, as research itself
becomes increasingly collaborative. I'll even go out on a limb and
predict a Westinghouse to a team by the end of the century.

I've noted that many of those who subscribe to this list are practicing
consultants (internal and external) and that a significant proportion of
those who have "spoken" here have been engaged for team building or team
development routines with leadership and other business teams. I'd be
astounded if they didn't uniformly use the sports analogy in their work
(including you, Barry!). If this strategy works at all, it is because -
in my opinion - the sports environment is the most commonly shared team
experience in our culture, and most people have experienced it in some way
in childhood and adolescence.


Jack Hirschfeld Did you ever see a dream walking?

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