During a recent team intervention which we were facilitating, one of the participants was sharing his views on teams and individual contributors , his point of view being that history remembers only instances of individuals overcoming trying circumstances to achieve the impossible – we rarely to get hear stories about teams doing the same. We discussed numerous stories ranging from sport, history and science where individuals have battled seemingly insurmountable obstacles to come out on top. That got me curious, were some of these success stories possible only due to individual effort or did they have the backing of “teams” behind them? And some of the stuff we found was mind boggling to say the least. This is the story of one such team…
Heard of Francis Jehl, Ludwig Boehm, John Kruesi, Francis Upton, Charles Batchelor, John Lawson or Martin Force? No? But you would surely have heard of Thomas Edison? Well, this was the team who made Edison’s dream of electric bulb, a practical reality. Thomas Edison, arguably the most brilliant inventor the world has ever seen, is renowned for his innumerable scientific accomplishments – his inventions still form the basis of many modern day devices and technologies. Some of his greatest contributions to the world of science can be read here. What is the image that comes to mind when you hear the words “brilliant inventor”? A lonely figure with glasses tinkering away in a dimly lit room? In Edison’s case, you would be way off the mark! His greatest successes came as a result of teams of researchers who worked collaboratively on projects, in a state of the art laboratory in Menlo Park!
Their successes are well documented, with inventions ranging from the electric bulb to motion pictures. So what made this team tick?
2. Collaboration –
3. Camaraderie –
Edison’s “invention factory” in Menlo Park was built on the solid foundations of collaboration and team work. Popular authors Gostick and Elton(Authors of “The Carrot Principle” & “The Orange Revolution”) describe this as “espirit de corps” , an indomitable bond shared by “Edison’s Muckers” – who worked and played together while sharing the same goals. Maybe this is what Edison himself was referring to when he said “I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap for the favor of the kings of the world.”
Does your team have the espirit de corps to shrug off a failure and try again till the goals are met? Are there similar teams out there which have inspired you? Do share your thoughts…
Check out our other parts of “Stories of Great Teams”: