What Aristotle and Plato have to say about Team Development? – Part 2

In the previous blog post I discussed how the Aristotelian/Platonic term Endelexeia can assist us conceptualize and develop our Teams. I also provided some tips on how we could go about achieving this. Let’s now have a look at the second significant term – Methexis.

Read on if you also want to find out more about this concept and also get some tips on how to go about to achieve this within your teams.

Aristotle

Methexis

Methexis is a term we find in both Aristotle and Plato with slightly different connotations. The term effectively means ‘working together’.

However, the interpretation of the term provides for a more esoteric meaning e.g.

“A good way to describe methexis is by considering the circular dance of primitive tribes we sometimes see on the History Channel. The dancers work on an individual plane acting the steps based on the rhythm but also on a collective as the group can also be considered as a separate entity”. – Bolt

Paraphrasing Bolt (found here), Methexis is a way of considering the intermingling of attitudes, expressions and movement and the way in which meaning is enmeshed with the materiality and temporality of processes and practices in which signification is embedded.

So, it becomes clear that “the primitive tribes’ ” dance is not in response to the world, but a means of encountering it, sensing it, and remaking it.

Extending this thought, Carter (found here) describes the indigenous belief in the practices of sand-dance-painting which, he believes, is producing ‘real effects both on the human and the divine plane’.

“In essence, acting within a group has the potentiality of producing real effects on the individual and supporting and guiding his or hers journey towards self-actualization”. -Carter

Thereafter, the key question is this:

‘How is it possible for one form or nature to be present in a plurality of things, and yet to remain one?’. Cornford

To understand this question better, we can think of it in the same sense as  modern physics asks the question for the nature of light:

How can light be considered a particle and a wave at the same time? (you can find a brief description here)

In response to Cornford’s question and for whoever has immersed in dance, the experiential facts provides the answer that:

Yes, we can be present in the plurality of dance and still remain “one”.

Moreover, it is meaningful to do so.

A good start to your team’s journey towards your achieving Methexis is summarized below:

  • Employ each team member wisely taking into account technical skills but also psychological attributes that compliment the team and the team’s mission.
  • Run collective meetings each week/month and promote open discussions about the team’s goals, key performance indicators, and future opportunities.
  • Run a SWOT team analysis every year.
  • Promote a “one in, all in” attitude for your team.
  • Promote and encourage the full understanding of how the team’s efforts affects the organizational success.
  • Create a sense of pride for the work done.
  • Perform a stakeholder bonding exercise e.g. a small interview between team members. The below is an excerpt questionnaire from Schuh et al’s, fabulous book The CPO, reportedly used at a team building exercise:
  • “Why am I at this company? What motivates me to be part if this organization?
  • What do I expect from my colleagues within procurement and/or in different countries and/or in other functions?
  • How do I contribute to this? What am I willing to give?
  • You would never have expected this about me:”

 

CONCLUSION

Thinking about effectiveness and how to build the organizations of tomorrow, it becomes clear that we should focus on removing the organizational barriers that created the silo mentality and thwarted communication, innovation and progress.

Plato and Aristotle when they argued about Endelexeia and Methexis did not have modern organizations in mind. Methexis was a term that was used in the Arts (Theatre) as a way to describe that the audience was fully immersed in the play and so, a measure that the play was successful.

However, both these terms can provide much food for thought in how we organize our teams today. This is because these terms assist us to conceptualize basic human needs i.e. the need to become and the need to connect.

The balance between the individual and the team is very important, i.e. the balance between the need to reach Endelexeia and to feel Methexis and so, making steps towards achieving both these states would ensure that organizations will have happy and engaged employees, well tuned and effective teams in their effort to be successful in this hyper-competitive market-space.

=========================================================================

 

Image courtesy of Nick Thompson / www.flickr.com

 

About George Vrakas
George Vrakas (MBA, CCMP, CMILT) is highly reputed in the fields of Contract and Relationship Management as well as, Services Procurement and Logistics with extensive experience in Contract Management, Procurement and Supply Chain. George is passionate about Contract Management, Procurement, Innovation, Continuous Improvement, Exploring trends that will shape the Future, Team Development and the Modernisation and Automation of processes. George is a member of IACCM. George is the author of www.georgevrakas.com blog and has presented on Globalisation, Procurement and Continuous Improvement at various venues and Universities in Victoria, Australia.

Comments are closed.