There is 'I' in team, teamwork

  • Published
  • By MSgt Jay Hoth
  • 71st Medical Group
We've all heard the saying, "there's no I in the word team," but I'd like to try to dispel that thought.
Webster dictionary defines a team as a number of persons associated together in any work and teamwork as work done by a team, as distinguished from that done by personal labor.
Keeping that in mind, any team is made up of multiple "I"s. Each person brings with them a separate and distinct set of skills, ideas and ways of doing things. When these "I"s come together to make a cohesive team by working together and using their individual skills, success is sure to follow, and the sky's the limit.
Before becoming a first sergeant, I was a unit education and training manager assigned to a maintenance training flight. In my five years there, our team of nine "I"s won Air Combat Command's Maintenance Training Flight of the Year award three times ... a feat never before accomplished. Had we not come together as a team and instead worked only as individuals, that could never have been realized.
Those of you in the Air Force in the mid-1990s may remember the Quality Air Force movement, and the formalized teams of that time.
The developmental team, natural working group, process action team and tiger teams were all created to improve existing processes, solve problems or develop new plans or procedures. These teams were made up by many "I"s, with the only commonality required among them their shared process.
These are but a few examples of teams and teamwork and the success they can achieve. Unfortunately, teams can become dysfunctional if the team members aren't interested in the team's success.
Each day at Vance Air Force Base many teams come together to keep the mission going. From the medical and dental technicians and providers, to DynCorp maintenance, to the radar approach control and air traffic control, each squadron and group is a team and we all make up Team Vance.
If one or more of the "I"s is more interested in personal recognition and personal labor than the greater good of the team and what they need to accomplish, their chances of finding success are very limited.
So what does all this mean, when you get right down to it? Suit up with your best ideas and your can-do attitude ... then toss in your "I"ndividuality ... the result is the reason other bases look us up in the book and ask ... so how does Team Vance do it?