Complexity, individuals and teams LO7352

Michael McMaster (
Thu, 9 May 1996 20:49:56 +0000

In response to the LO7303 thread,

Try on "no individual is more intelligent than the team of which they
are a member". What does that give you?

One thing it gives is our arrogance that we are more intelligent and could
do it better. This is only a version of "my way is the right way, if only
everybody would recognise it." Yes, the way we think is better would
often be IF people would do it. But that isn't the way people work. So
it's only in fantasyland that we are more intelligent than our team.

This doesn't deny that, on occasion, a team may be so dysfunctional
that an individual would be better. It's just that this would be a
pathological condition and relatively rare.

One of the ways that a team is more intelligent than its individual
members is that the individuals which comprise the team are also
somewhat dysfunctional. But the dysfunctionalities are different and
so tend to self-equalise and create a healthier whole. (Someone
might provide a more detailed explanation of this phenomenon.)

On the positive side, a team is more intelligent from the variety of
knowledge, information, responses, etc that are present than would be
the case in only a single individual.

And, most importantly, a team is more intelligent because it formed
from an even larger social institution and has routines, memories and
practices already built in far beyond what any of us could do

Is this true? I don't know. Is it plausible? Yes. Does it give
you a different perspective on individuals and their relationships to
teams? If so, then I'd say it is valuable to consider from there for
at least a time.


Michael McMaster <>

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