Thinking interdependently is another way of speaking of team work and collaboration. If you’re familiar with Stephen Covey and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you know that the entire program is built on the transition of people from dependent to independent to interdependent. Covey, like most of us, knew that there is a real advantage of the “great minds” notion. When we are working together, we drive each other forward to thinking differently and stretching ourselves. There is an old adage that says, “Many hands make hard work light.” Evidence of this can be found throughout history and our daily lives. I was recently thinking about Apollo 13 which could have ended in tragic death for the astronauts on board. Yet the team on the ground and the team in the capsule went to work to resolve the problem facing the crew, and amazingly, came up with a solution. Chances are that if one person would have been working alone, in a vacuum or a silo, the results would not have been successful.
As we move into the 21st Century, it is important that we understand the value of team. Team is when the whole far exceeds the capacity of a single individual. In a high functioning team, the weaknesses of one member are supported by the strengths of another so that together the fiber of the team and the work they accomplish is exemplary. Working and thinking interdependently changes things exponentially. In many businesses this sort of interdependence is produced in the virtual world, yet still, the value of the team is evident. So let’s teach youth to collaborate. Let’s spend time building teams so youth are comfortable in that setting. Let’s lead the way in helping all youth develop this critical 21st Century work place skill.