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Teamwork gets it right

March 31, 2014 - Jenny Rukenbrod
The concept of “teamwork” has been long studied and much analyzed. Countless books on the topic abound for toddlers through adult hood and any and all professions. As a self-described “old” basketball player, nothing defines the word “TEAM”, like the sentence Together, Everyone, Achieves, More. Drills became ingrained and hard work, a go-to for everyday life. In a community where people and pets are connected, raising awareness and funding are daunting and inescapable tasks. Teamwork makes these chores, gratifying and productive.

The recently published book, “Lead Like Butler – Six Principles for Values-Based Leaders” discusses the value of teamwork in the context of the success of the Butler University Men’s Basketball team. With usage prior to the 12th century, the origin of the word “teamwork” referred to a group of draft animals who would draw or pull together. The familiar site of the Budweiser horses or a team attached to a plow springs to mind. Although, smooth, seamless plays of your favorite well drilled basketball team during this season of March Madness or the rough edges of your baseball team during spring training exemplify individual units working together to achieve a common goal.

On the surface, the topic of “team” would appear to be shallow, not requiring much in-depth study. But, one only needs to open the door to the study of the coordination that exists in the animal kingdom to change that perception dramatically. Who among us has not watched in fascination as a “team” of ants work together to achieve a desired task? The analysis is over my head, but a Stanford researchers report “that the algorithm desert ants use to regulate foraging is like the Traffic Control Protocol (TCP) used to regulate data traffic on the internet”. What? Has anyone explained this factoid to Al Gore?

As a child of the Marlin Perkins, Mutual of Omaha Animal Kingdom, I watched in horror as a clan of hyenas took down a wildebeest through precision like orchestration. This evolved, cooperative behavior resulted in nutrition from prey many times their individual sizes. More pleasant examples exist in the gaggles of geese that can fly 70% further be flying in their V-formation to achieve additional lift and less air resistance or the trademark chirpy squeal of a communicating fish producing pod of dolphin.

It can be said that animals don’t judge. They just “do” for survival and purpose. Although not as dramatic in purpose, two recent projects enjoyed the success of teamwork between man and beast. The first, a fundraising concert, combined the efforts of my pet charity, The Humane Society of Columbiana County(HSCC) and the County K-9 Teams (also known as Drug Dogs and their Handlers). Another impressive TEAM directed by Navy Seal Adam Newbold and ATG Worldwide, scored an assist by providing professional security and operational support. Joining the line-up was a generous band comprised of world class, nationally known musicians who took the stage with equally talented locals. Together, with the help of other important contributors, these two do-good, service organizations benefitted from one coordinated effort that will have impact on the quality and safety of an entire community.

Also in March, to help celebrate Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, several Friends of HSCC and their faithful companions visited Employment Development, Inc. at the Columbiana County Board of Developmental Disabilities in Lisbon. I’m still not sure who enjoyed the event more. It’s a tossup between the tongue and tail wagging canines, their generous owners who gave of their private time or the delighted clients and staff. But, of one thing I am certain. In a community where people and pets are connected, Together-Everyone-Achieves- More!!


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