Individuals are awesome

Collaborating with others is the most important skill in life. If you can’t play well together, career chances are slim. We are a social species.

People like people. They like to learn from others. They love to laugh together. The difference between individuals creates a diversity that makes us human.

We are a social species, not a hivemind.

Yet when it comes to corporate team building gurus, that seems to be the goal. Individuality seems to be a sin to these people. We all need to fit the mould.

The people who want to remove this individual agency see themselves as The Coach. The one who turns a rag-tag bunch of kids into a Synchronized Swimming team. Their process can turn a group of individuals into a well-oiled, standardized machine.

It’s arrogant hubris. Note how these rules apply to The Team, but never to The Coach. He has to be quirky and unique to do his job, of course. Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi .

The truth is the collective is made by individuals. Not the other way around. We are creative specialists, not worker bees. We are not part of a Synchronized Swimming troupe. We are at a rave party where each of us dances our own weird little dance to the same music.

That is why we are there in the first place.

Our individual expression is what makes us great at our job. Let’s not buy into the cult of the grey average.

You didn’t love working in that team because it had 2 designers and a dedicated tester. Nor do you care about the length of the sprints. You loved working in that team because Kim was part of it. Every design she touched turned into gold. Without her, the team wasn’t the same.

Let’s not diminish her as “just a designer”. She was special and made the team the team. And so do you.

Let’s celebrate that.

Individuals are awesome. They make the team.

Without them, nothing gets done.