We all have expressions we use that are representative of our cultures, our upbringing, our life experiences, or even just something we heard someone say that struck a chord within us. There are the famously inspirational sayings, like Vince Lombardi’s classic quote “Winners never quit and quitters never win," and the often over-used (but still very true), “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’.” (Peter Drucker)
These expressions become powerful because they are simple, straightforward, and based on the personal experience of someone who was able to successfully summarize their experiences into a few words that simply stuck in the minds of the people who heard them.
Over the years, I’ve developed my own expression I like to use (despite the flack I catch from my wife for doing so) that reflects both my belief in the power of teamwork, as well as my affinity for the simplicity and undeniable truth that can be found in mathematical equations.
That expression is:
We1 > Me∞
Or, when read aloud: “We to the power of one is greater than me to the power of infinity”.
The beauty of it from a mathematical perspective is that it holds true. The word ‘me’ is singular. No matter how many times you multiply the number 1 by itself, the most you can ever hope to get is 1. The word ‘we’ is plural. So even if the ‘we’ in question is only two people, that number multiplied by 1 (or to the power of 1) is always going to be greater than 1.
But FAR more important than the mathematical truth is the practical truth of the expression. No matter how hard I try as an individual, no matter how much effort I put into solving a problem, and no matter how much experience I may have to put towards addressing an issue, the most that will ever come from those efforts will be based on exactly that: my singular experiences and efforts. Those singular experiences and efforts will NEVER produce results as great as those that can be achieved by combining my efforts and experiences with even one more person.
This expression, to me, represents the value that we find in embracing not only teamwork but also in embracing the diversity of team members. It’s not only the number of people on a team but also the diverse experiences that each of those members brings to bear on the issue that the team is addressing that can really make for creative, lasting solutions.
So the next time you’re faced with an issue, take the approach used by Micron Solutions— and so many other leading organizations— and form a team. Even if it’s just an informal team, rather than trying to solve it yourself hold a Kaizen event, go to Gemba to view the problem with others who have different perspectives based on different experiences…do whatever is needed to get a team involved, because the solution you come to on your own will never be as powerful as the solution backed by the power of ‘we’!