(post from Andrew Thorp)
I gave a talk at a local school last week on the topic of communication. The entire Year 10 (about eighty 14/15 year olds) were taking part in an exercise to encourage entrepreneurial endeavour and were working in teams of 8.
I spoke initially about a particular story that had inspired me on TED, and then wandered around the tables as they worked. Ultimately, each team had to stand and deliver a short presentation, introducing themselves and explaining what they’d learned. Certain words came up again and again – innovation, marketing, finance and, most commonly, teamwork.
As I listened to them present, I wasn’t 100% sure they’d considered the deeper meaning of these words – maybe that was an unreasonable expectation, given their age.
But then something interesting happened. The microphone was handed to a girl who sounded different from the rest – she clearly had learning difficulties, and was struggling to read off the flip chart sheets the teams had prepared. Another member of her team (baseball cap, hoody – the kind of stereotype so beloved of the Daily Mail) leant across and helped her with the words.
It was a beautiful moment, a pure piece of teamwork delivered spontaneously in front of the entire audience. I singled out the young man in my summary (embarrassing him greatly, I’m sure) and everyone applauded him.
Sometimes when we use words like teamwork and creativity we forget what they actually look like in real life. But they’re around us all the time, and need to be recognised and appreciated.