Culture describes in-common ways of interpreting, thinking and doing. How well we can accelerate progress through more successful meetings and collaborations depends in part on culture. For instance, we often hear the throwaway quip, “There’s no ‘I’ in team.” During the moments of triumph, those we call football heroes tell the microphones, “It isn’t me; it’s the team.” Most of them believe that. However, our culture instead celebrates the obvious ones: the I’s have it. We like to think that the inventor is a unique genius, not that he or she simply fulfilled the vision and work of others who prepared the way (or worked with them on their teams).
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Frankly, stories of heroes and heroics are easier to tell than those of teamwork and collaboration. It’s much easier to say, “Micky did it,” than try to explain why and how Micky did it, and with whose absolutely necessary help.
When teams and collaborations succeed, we’re all heroes. But that fights with the I-narratives in our heads. But if we want to accelerate progress in the 21st century, we need more we-narratives. That’s a culture change, as difficult as it is necessary.
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