If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford

I promise not to use any sports analogies in this particular guest post. And I keep my promises. So, let me start instead with a frequently misunderstood concept from the social science of economics (which I used to teach, many years ago).

“When the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” expresses the basic meaning of synergy; it’s sometimes known as “the 2+2 = 5 phenomenon”. 

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The word is often used in a purely physical sense, especially when discussing medicine; sometimes a “cocktail” of drugs may be more effective than the sum of the effectiveness of each of the separate drugs.  

The word can also be used with regard to the input of different individuals, or different organisations. 

And that’s what effective teamwork is all about: combining specialist skills or inputs or proclivities to be more efficient or more effective in achieving objectives or completing tasks. 

Being efficient is about doing things well, minimising use of resources, achieving high productivity, which is important, whereas being effective is about doing the right things, which is more interesting.

You might think it’s inevitable that I’ll now talk about Adam Smith, dubbed as the father of Modern Economics and the division of labour and pin factories, but let’s think about the creative industries instead. 

Effective teamwork

They are sectors of the economy which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property. And these include (but are not limited to):

  • Advertising and marketing 
  • Architecture
  • Crafts
  • Design ( product, graphic and fashion) 
  • Film  and TV production,  video, radio 
  • IT, software and computer services
  • Music 

In music, lyrics are often written by one individual and, separately, the notes written by another; or two writers may collaborate and provide fragments of each, like Lennon and McCartney.

Paul McCartney once said The Beatles were “in the vinyl sales industry”. For younger readers of the blog, music used to be recorded onto black vinyl discs called ‘records’ before Compact Discs (CDs) had even been invented.

For even younger readers, CDs were moulded plastic discs containing digital data that was scanned by a laser beam, before streaming became prevalent.

The Beatles

All four of the Beatles were composers and musicians individually, but worked most effectively as a team.

With Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, Simon wrote pretty much all the lyrics and all the notes, and he sang and played the guitar, but Garfunkel added interpretation and harmony. They were still a team, albeit one where relations weren’t always harmonious. 

The music of The Beatles and of Simon & Garfunkel have been played by other ‘pop’ performers, by jazz trios and by full symphony orchestras – the ultimate musical team, guided by a conductor who achieves results by coordinating and facilitating the diverse talents of the other musicians and leveraging the creative genius of the composers.

There are clear analogies here with management in other industries.

GC Index

Whereas in management psychology, we ‘borrow’ the term: with the GC Index, someone with a high score as a ‘playmaker’ is one who leads through harnessing the talents of others “to orchestrate the future”. 

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One of the greatest conductors of the twentieth century, Leonard Bernstein (who lavishly praised the creativity of the Beatles) provided the world with some great quotes as well as some great music. Here’s one which has some application to management, whatever business you might be in:   

 “To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.”

This post was contributed by Adrian Rhodes. He’s a UK based management consultant with an MSC in Management Psychology and an accreditation to use the GC index – be sure to check out his LinkedIn profile for more details.