Michael Jordan once said, "Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships."
The individual effort of smart and talented people is critically important to success—but there are many highly-talented people on sports teams, within organizations and even project teams that never achieve great success because as important as their individual effort may be, an organization or a team is only as good as its weakest link.
Over the weekend I enjoyed most of Saturday on an incredibly scenic ride over what's called the Energy Loop (one of America's Scenic Byways). It was a beautiful ride and a great day spent in the saddle. When I got near the summit of the ride, I really liked the beautiful panorama of the mountain pass and stopped to take a photograph—but I couldn't fit it all into the frame. The photo above represents the seven images I took to capture the sweeping view.
I'd be the first to admit that it isn't fine art, but it reminds me of how beautiful the ride was and it makes me smile (which is success for a photograph, isn't it?).
The seven images meshed together to form the complete picture are much like the success that can be achieved when a team works well together. You can certainly see where one image is connected to the rest, it's not about making it look like it was the effort of only one, it's about combining the talents of everyone on the team to create a successful outcome.
I don't think there's anything wrong with recognizing individual accomplishment. In fact, I think it's a good thing—so long as it is in the context of building a stronger team. Like Michael Jordan, I think individual talent can contribute to short-term success, but long-term success depends on the team.
The young poet Mattie Stepanek said, "Unity is strength...when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved."