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Underwood Community Schools

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From the Desk of the Superintendent...

OCTOBER 2021 DISTRICT DISPATCH Why can great creative teams achieve more together than they can separately? In his book, The Element (2009), Dr. Ken Robinson suggests that it is because of the following three features: (1) great creative teams are diverse; (2) great creative teams are dynamic; and (3) great creative teams are distinct. In discussing the first point regarding great creative teams being diverse, Dr. Robinson writes about the Beatles and their different musical sensibilities and types of personalities. For all they had in common, musically and culturally, John Lennon and Paul McCartney were very different people, as were George Harrison and Ringo Starr. It was their differences that made their common creative musical work greater than the sum of their individual parts. Dr. Robinson goes on to discuss great creative teams being dynamic. Different ways of thinking can be an obstacle to creativity, but great creative teams find ways of using their differences as strengths and not weaknesses. They have a process through which their strengths are complementary and compensate for each other’s weaknesses. They are able to challenge each other as equals and take criticism as an incentive to improve. Dr. Robinson also notes that great creative teams are distinct. They have a unique and distinctive group personality and come together to do something specific. They are together only for as long as they want to be or must be to get the job done. One of the most famous examples of powerful and creative teamwork is the administration of Abraham Lincoln. In her books Team of Rivals (2005) and Leadership in Turbulent Times (2018), presidential scholar Doris Kearns Goodwin tells the story of Lincoln and key members of his cabinet: Edwin M. Stanton, secretary of war; Salmon P. Chase, secretary of the treasury; William H. Steward, secretary of state; and Edward Bates, attorney general. These five men were passionate in their desire to lead and move America forward. However, each of the cabinet members mentioned had openly opposed Lincoln prior to his presidency. Stanton once even called Lincoln a “long-armed ape.” Each of them had strongly-held positions that sometimes differed significantly from Lincoln’s. In addition, each of them believed he was more deserving of the presidency than the man the people had elected. Still, Lincoln believed that each of these rivals had strengths the administration needed. With a degree of equanimity and composure difficult to imagine in current American politics, Lincoln brought this team together. They argued often and vigorously. However, what they found in working with each other was the ability to forge their differing opinions into sturdy national policy which guided the nation through its most perilous time. Please note that we will be having a 2:30 p.m. dismissal at the end of the first quarter on Friday, October 15, 2021. Parent-teacher conferences will be held on Tuesday, October 26, 2021, and Thursday, October 28, 2021, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. There will be no school on Friday, October 29, 2021.