The “I” in the Team

Tik Tak

Yeah, I know that there is no “I” in a team. 

Having said that, I am not kidding when I say that there is an “I” in a team. It is often a mute spectator and sacrifices itself for the “greater good” as Dumbledore from Harry Potter would have said it. Again, this “I” is what became the center of our continuous learning session that was held this week. Whoa! The things we learn as a part of our continuous learning session!

No, we are not breaking up as a team (we stay true to teamwork, and having each other’s back). We love being a team always. But as always in a team, people play different roles – some larger and some smaller and some just support. There is always some difference in the way each person in a team contributes to teamwork.

Yogita Nalkande was quick to realize that all our team games were great at teamwork but there was always some “uneven distribution” of efforts. That’s the reason why we are here having this session about the “I” in the Team. She was so keen on leading this session that she told Bhushan that she “so much wanted to lead this session for the team.” Go ahead, we know it will be fun and learning all along the way.

Yogita’s reasoning behind this team game was very inspiring – just the thought of it motivated us. She wanted to do an activity session that would be a team game, but one where everybody in the team had to contribute equally to the common bigger team goal. So everyone could put in equal efforts and yet contribute to the teamwork. Another feather in our continuous learning cap.

The activity consisted of two games (we are all having this ear-to-ear grin at the thought of two different games instead of the usual one). We played ping ball tic-tac-toe and ping ball puddle jumper. Here is how we went about it.

Yogita divided us into two group – boys and girls or should I say men and women (now that we are no longer kids battling out the tic-tac-toe on paper with a pen or a pencil). Each team member got 1 minute to play each game. We had a go at tic-tac-toe first.

We had 9 glasses filled with water and we had to a lot of balls in two different colors – one for each team. We started by throwing the ping pong balls in such a way that they landed on the water. As with the regular tic-tac-toe game, the team that landed 3 their colored balls in a row (vertically, horizontally or diagonally) would beat the other team to win that game. 

For the second game, three glasses filled with water were used to recreate the puddle. The glasses were placed vertically one below the other. Each team member had to skip the ball from the glass nearest to him/her to the glass in front and then again to the last glass by blowing air on the ball from glass to glass with their mouth.

The key was that each member had to first finish the ping pong ball tic-tac-toe and then proceed to the puddle jumper and finish that as well. The winners get to contribute points towards their team.

The game involved physical activity (throwing the ball) and was intense and fun. It was akin to a duel. No one was ready to give up without giving up a fight. But as with every game, there can be only one winner. Team Boys won the game.

Once the excitement settled down, we all huddled around for the learning. Apart from the activity, this is the best part of our continuous learning session. Thoughts are exchanges and there is a lot to take away from each other. We all become a student and teacher at the same time. It is always a great feeling.

One thing was unanimous – everyone loved both the activities. Subham noticed that there was a healthy competition as the team was also passing around the other team’s balls and showing great sportsman spirit. Bhushan was quick to point out that in every other activity everyone was thinking about the team winning and in this game, they were thinking of making “my” team win.

Avinash and Zahir were buoyed by the coordination and teamwork as well as with how everyone was contributing individually.

Vivek found the activity enjoyable. He also pointed out that though it was all about individual contribution, there were no individual heroes – all everyone remembers is which team won and which one lost. So no matter which individual won, it was all about the team winning and that was satisfying. He also had another learning to share – one that was quite interesting.

Vivek compared this activity to a chaotic project – where no one could strategize – all they could do was send their best batsman forward and if they win it would be less work for the next player. According to him, chaos has a strong effect on our planning – we cannot plan, all we can do is try to survive and that is why there should be a stronger culture of teamwork. When it comes to chaos all one can do is be comfortable with the team members, understand their strength and weakness, and automatically find a path during that chaos.

For Bhanu, the game played out differently and somewhat hilariously. He was slotted at #3 to play the game and kept planning in his mind different strategies. However, he kept strategizing and kept shifting his slot and realized a little bit too late that he had to plan the other game as well.

Pritam, Pranjal, Astha all felt the same – they all were contributing to the common goal of team success. So did Prithashree, Monali, Sayali, and Prajakta. Rajlakshmi who was not playing but coordinating learned in a very nice way that coordinating was not as easy as it seems. She too agreed about contributing to the team goal.

Blessy pointed out how everyone after finishing their game rushed to help others achieve their goal so that their team could win without hiccups. 

Prithashree, Monali, Sayali, Prajakata also felt the same: important in a team, one or two people tend to get laid back. That – every individual has to play a role to achieve the target.

As the curtains closed on this energetic and inspiring game, here is the summary:

  • There is no “I” in a team – even if there is one, it says – I win, my team wins.
  • The strength of the team is each member and the strength of each team member is the team
  • And last but not least, teamwork is like this Tibetan proverb – “when he took time to help the man up the mountain, lo, he scaled it himself”.
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