The Sum of Us is Greater Than One of Us…Sometimes

The sum of us can be more powerful (and fun) than one of us… sometimes. The confounding thing is exactly how we make it happen.

Even when we have a strong desire to collaborate, we are  likely bump up against into each other because, as in love,  good intentions don’t always lead to mutually satisfying behavior. Yet, as in love and friendship, the togetherness of collaboration is where our most meaningful moments in life often happen. We have the opportunity to either step away or stay steadfast in creating something greater than we can alone. Sometimes we can even savor the bumpy moments along the way. What’s your favorite quote for collaborating? Here’s some ideas.

“Independence is a political concept, not a biological concept.” ~ Margaret Wheatley

“Maybe we are not here to see each other but to see each other through” ~ anonymous

“We are moving from sharing to cooperation to collective action.” ~ Clay Shirky

“If you want to have great partnerships, be a great partner. Get beyond yourself. Give up the notion that you are well-rounded, and stop expecting your colleagues to be universally proficient. Incorporate someone else’s motivations into your view of the accomplishment. Loosen up.

Put aside your competitive nature, your prepackaged view of how the thing should be done, and your desire not to be inconvenienced with the imperfections of a fellow human being. Focus more on what you do for the partnership than what you get from it. Demonstrate trust and see if they don’t surprise you with their trustworthiness. Be slower to anger and quicker to forgive. And along the way, communicate continuously.” ~ Rodd Wagner and Gale Muller

“A radically different order of society based on open access, decentralized creativity, collaborative intelligence, and cheap and easy sharing is ascendant.” ~ David Bollier

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

“We live in two worlds – order and chaos.  In the world of order, we plan, reflect, and think about what to do next.  In the world of chaos, things happen, we get things done, yet unpredictability persists.   In one world, we like to think we are in control.  In the other, we mingle together with increasing complexity, conflict, and uncertainty.” ~ David Spangler

“How much you groom somebody else is more important than who grooms you.” ~ Robert Sapolsky

“I am continually impressed by the inconsistency of sustained attention in relationships.  Partners complain about this all the time, and kids probably would too if they could. ‘We’ have evolved with the capacity to attend to each other, but it’s not exactly dominant in our lives. Imagine a world where it was!” ~ Thomas Bradbury

“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” ~ Henry Winkler

“If we are to live together in peace, we must come to know each other better.” ~ Lyndon Johnson

“A person wrapped up in himself makes a small package.” ~ Harry Emerson Fosdick

“Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect, the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect.” ~ E.M. Forrester

“Daily life is foreplay for relationships.” ~ Kate Feldman

“Structure influences behavior. Design spaces that make you feel “you are welcome here and that you came to the right place.” ~ Peter Block

“Safety is a basic human need.  People with a sense of security and belonging are stabilized for learning, creating, innovating. A group of wonderfully cared for, confident individuals generates great ideas.”  ~ John Sweeney

“Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.” ~ Max Lucade

“Our model of what it was to be present to each other, we thought we liked that,” she said. “But it turns out that time shifting is our most valued product. This new technology is about control. Emotional control and time control.” ~ Sherry Turkel

“Bad collaboration is worse than no collaboration. Working across organizational values can create tremendous value or destroy it – the hoarding and squabbling endemic in large companies can actually make collaboration more expensive than not attempting it.” ~ Morten T. Hansen

“Human beings are wired to care and give and it’s probably our best route to happiness.” ~ Dacher Keltner

“Dissent is the cousin of diversity; the respect for a wide range of beliefs. This begins by allowing people the space to say “no”. If we cannot say “no” then our “yes” has no meaning. Each needs the chance to express their doubts and reservations, without having to justify them, or move quickly into problem solving. No is the beginning of the conversation for commitment.” ~ Peter Block

“Groups need both carrot and stick-based rules to remain stable.” ~ Robert Axelrod

“We need to look at front porches as crime fighting tools, treat picnics as public health efforts and see choral groups as occasions of democracy. We will become a better place when assessing social capital impact becomes a standard part of decision-making.” ~ Lew Feldstein

“Consequential strangers help us stretch beyond the relatively rigid boxes that the people who have known us the longest – our family and close friends – often put us into. Through interacting with people who do not know us as well, we are more free to experiment with ourselves, and less likely to have our new behaviors and roles reflected back to us by people who object, ‘But that’s not like you!’” ~ Melinda Blau and Karen L. Fingerman

“Collaboration is more about find that sweet spot of mutual interest and understanding and being understood, than it is about speak well.” ~ Kare Anderson

“From American Idol to The Matrix participatory media – where old and new media converge by involving fans – is influencing our culture by creating new forms of interactive storytelling. Yet by enabling people to participate in such various media they can converge as a crowd to alter the story to create new modes of engagement, some not necessarily endorsed by the creator – or the brands that back them.” ~ Henry Jenkins

“In the long history of humankind…those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” ~ Charles Darwin

“Effective collaboration is about maximizing time, talent and tools to create value. The old way was the pass-along approach. I do my job and then pass along my work product to you. You do your piece of it and pass it along to somebody else.” ~ Evan Rosen

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”  ~ Carl Jung

“Diverse groups of problem solvers outperformed the groups of the best individuals at solving complex problems. The reason: the diverse groups got stuck less often than the smart individuals, who tended to think similarly.” ~ Scott E. Page

“Open, frank communication is the lynchpin to teamwork. A fractured team is like a fractured bone; fixing it is always painful and sometimes you have to re-break it to heal it fully – and the re-break always hurts more because it is intentional.” ~ Patrick Lencioni

“If you understood everything I said, you’d be me.” ~ Miles Davis

“Groups become more extreme and entrenched in their beliefs and polarized from others when members only exchange information that reinforces their views and filter out all else or never learn of alternatives. Thus they narrow their options, and magnify each other’s prejudices and misconceptions. This trend leads to blind spots in decision making and to extreme behavior, even terrorism.” ~ Cass Sunstein

“Being in a band is always a compromise. Provided that the balance is good, what you lose in compromise, you gain by collaboration.” ~ Mike Rutherford

“Some of the power has shifted from companies to people. Using social media tools (blogs, wikis, tagging, etc.) more individuals are creating semi-spontaneous ‘groundswells’ of opinions to which companies and other institutions are realizing they must respond.  From marketing to consumers organizations are being pulled into engaging with individuals.” ~ Charlene Li

“No idea will work if people don’t trust your intentions toward them.” ~ Marcus Buckingham

“Who is giving the orders to ants? No one. They are self-organizing. Each of our immune systems get smarter over the years as its biochemical parts share information, and it responds with individualized defenses, but it isn’t conscious and it has no memory. The host of that party didn’t decree that everyone would gather in the kitchen, but it happened anyway. Emergence means we sometimes act in concert for better or worse.” ~ Steven Johnson

“Trust is the glue that holds relationships together.” ~ Price Pritchett

“In an improv group and a successful work team, the members play off one another, each person’s contributions providing the spark for the next. Together, the improvisational team creates a novel emergent product, one that’s more responsive to the changing environment. “ ~ Keith Sawyer

“Human beings are to independent action, what cats are to swimming. We can do it if we really have to, but mostly we don’t… Instead, we do what we do because of what those around us are doing (Whatever our minds and our cultures tell us). It is our innate nature as “herd” animals that cause mass movements, not the influence of a handful of influential individuals.” ~ Mark Earls

“Be more interested than interesting.” ~ Mark Goulston

“Hot groups have members who are task-obsessed and full of passion. They share a style which is “intense, sharply focused, and full bore. Members feel engaged in an important, even vital and personally ennobling mission; their task dominates all other considerations; and although such intense teams tend to remain intact only for a relatively short period of time, that time is remembered nostalgically and in considerable detail by its members.” ~ J. Lipman-Blumen and H. Leavitt

“For productive collaboration adopt five principles: involve the relevant stakeholders, build consensus phase by phase, design a process map, designate a process facilitator and harness the power of group memory.” ~ David Straus and Thomas C. Layton

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ~ Plato

“Trafficking organizations these days take the form of decentralized networks that shift continuously, assuming new configurations as opportunities present themselves and then morphing again to meet the needs of the next moment. They don’t specialize in a single commodity like cocaine. Instead, they move whatever goods present an opportunity for profit in the present moment; drugs today, arms tomorrow, people the next day and then knock-off designer handbags after that. Yet government agencies’ understanding of the organizational structure of international trafficking networks is dangerously out of date. They go after the illicit trades as if they had a hierarchical structure with information and power flowing up and down a chain of command.” ~ Moises Naim

“If your friend’s friend’s friend (whom you may not have even met) is obese, a smoker or a zealot of some kind then it is a lot more likely that you will be too.” ~ James H. Fowler

“Hackman’s paradox: Groups have natural advantages: they have more resources than individuals; greater diversity of resources; more flexibility in deploying the resources; many opportunities for collective learning; and, the potential for synergy. Yet studies show that their actual performance often is subpar relative to “nominal” groups (i.e. individuals given the same task but their results are pooled.) The two most common reasons: groups are assigned work that is better done by individuals or are structured in ways that cap their full potential.” ~ Richard Hackman

“The best advice for parents is not to shelter their children from the suffering in the world, and to engage them in doing something to get involved.” ~ Marc Keilburger

“Some of us cry when we watch sad movies or wince when we see athletes fall. This sense of shared experience is at the core of human experience. Because our brain has mirror neurons, we are capable of interpreting facial expressions of pain or joy, the first step towards feeling empathy, which causes an instinctively imitative response – the chameleon effect. That ‘mirroring’ response enables two people to literally see they are more alike in that moment.  That similarity evokes familiarity and thus a feeling of comfort that can lead to mutual trust with others.  When these mirror neurons do not work an individual may not be aware of another’s feelings and thus act in socially incorrect ways.” ~ Marco Iacoboni

“All for one, one for all.” ~ Alexander Dumas

“There are three stages of organizational development in this networked era. 1. Fortress – an organization where there are insiders and outsiders, and the two rarely meet or interact; 2. Transactional – an organization that is engaged with their community, but with the sole focus of transactions, such as getting people to sign up for an event or make a donation; and 3. Transparent – an organization that fully engages and empowers their community to accomplished shared goals.” ~ Beth Kanter and Allison Fine

“Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprung up.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

“The world you inhabit is the world you make. Your reputation precedes you, biasing the way new colleagues deal with you. Your first moves, friendly or hostile, tip the balance for future interactions. When you exhibit trust, you will most often find trustworthiness. When you are selfish, you will most often find selfishness. When you compete, others must resort to competition. If you choose to play the game strictly for your own advantage, your attempts at collaboration will indeed be, (as Thomas Hobbes said), ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.’” ~ Rodd Wagner and Gale Muller

“Let all humanity be your sect.” ~ Sikh saying

6 Responses to “The Sum of Us is Greater Than One of Us…Sometimes”

  1. Beth Kanter Says:

    Thanks for including us!~

  2. kare anderson Says:

    “To feel the intimacy of brothers is a marvelous thing in life. To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and weaknesses — that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being and unites all living things.” ~ Pablo Neruda

  3. Michael Yanakiev Says:

    Kare – This is a absolutely great post! It lays out things for a future synthesis, that in my opinion can be done !
    This is the key idea to build upon and you formulated it beautifully :
    The sum of us can be more powerful (and fun) than one of us… sometimes. The confounding thing is exactly how we make it happen. If I were to give it a try I would have used – the ideas we developed with Russell Askoff
    in his book chapter -The Nature of Systems in Re -Creating the Corporation. Of course this is an oversimplification,but could be some sort of a starting point. Margaret Wheatley can contribute if she decides to. The ideas that you have organized is a such a treasure to reflect upon. Thanks.

  4. Celina Macaisa Says:

    Your philosophy can provide increased personal fulfillment at home (from better relationship with family, friends, partners). But it also be applied in the workplace even though at work, we are naturally defensive about our own interests and tend to be competitive and highly individualistic. But in many cases so much more can be achieved by a quality-focused work team or team-based organization than just by just one person or a few key employees.

    “Tigers Among Us: Winning Business Team Cultures And Why They Thrive” is a good reference for people and business owners/leaders who want to take the risk (and reap the rewards) of adopting a ‘collaborative’ or team approach at work “with all their employees” or their entire organization. The sum is truly greater than one of us, or a few chosen ones.

  5. kare anderson Says:

    Celina,
    We agree – collaboration can be a valuable tool, not “just” for personal situations but for work (as you cite) and for social situations such as for a civic or member-based organization or church or other special interest groups. This compilation of others’ thoughts reflects that broad, possible application.

  6. JOE ABERGER- CHANGE MANAGEMENT TRAINING Says:

    I would like to add a few more lines to Dr. Price Pritchett’s “Trust is the glue that holds relationships together”

    The faster you want to grow, the more you’ll need support systems . . . contacts . . . key relationships. Other people are in control of opportunities. They can open doors, offer know-how, and help you through the rough spots.

    Technical skills will take you only so far, and they’re not enough to keep you on the fast track. You also need to become an expert at meeting and getting along with people.

    We live today in an interconnected world, and that highlights the importance of interpersonal skills. If you’re good at networking, you’ve got an advantage. Business has gotten big on teamwork. Partnering. Alliances and joint venturing. To position yourself for maximum growth, you need to excel at relationship management.

    To read more related articles and excerpts visit our website (www.pritchettnet.com/change-management-strategy)

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