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Teamwork matters. Just ask researchers Francis Crick and JamesWatson. In 1953, the duo boldly announced they had “found thesecret of life.” Crick and Watson, along with the assistance of afew other scientists, had discovered DNA.Their chief competitor was Linus Pauling, a scientist whoworked alone. Pauling did come close to an answer, butultimately it was the team of researchers that made thediscovery. Crick and Watson’s scientific breakthrough earnedthem a Nobel Prize and infinite accolades.Watson readily recognized the value in having a collaborator.“… we had each other,” he said. “It helps to have someone elseto take over the thinking when you get frustrated.”
When people collaborate, problems get solved faster. Crick and Watson knewit, and today new researchers are confirming it. In March 2008, researchers fromthe Stanford Business School revealed a study of productivity in steel mini-mills.Researchers found that yield was higher in mills that used problem-solving teamsto overcome a variety of hurdles such as preventing material jams and reducingequipment failure.“You need a group of experts coming together to solve a complex problem,”said Kathryn Shaw, the Ernest C. Arbuckle Professor of Economics at the StanfordGraduate School of Business, one of the study’s authors. “You’re bringing peopletogether because no one person can solve theproblem as well as the group.”Simply convening a team however, is no predicatorfor success. The members must work together. Forthe fortunate, cooperation is inherent. For others,it must be taught.Thom Cody is a consultant and co-owner of Pathmakers, an organizational-development firm based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In more than 20 years ofconsulting, he has seen several companies fail to develop true teams.“If there is one thing I’ve seen over the years, companies make the mistake of
Leslie Palich & Linda Livingston. “Improving Research Performance.” Graziadio Business Report, PepperdineUniversity. gbr.pepperdine.edu/032/teamwork.html#note5. Accessed May 19, 2008.