Sum Teamwork

RAN Clearance Divers on exercise

Anyone who has ever struggled to descend – or fought to stay afloat – while diving will recall the story of Archimedes discovering some fundamental facts about flotation while splashing around in his bath-tub.  As with other Laws of Physics named after scientists like Boyle, Charles, Dalton and Henry, Archimedes Principle has become a corner-stone of diving safety.

Less well-known but of equal importance to safe diving practice is the work of another ancient Greek, the philosopher Aristotle, who wrote that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, a neat summary of the benefits of cooperative effort that goes beyond the idea that “two heads are better than one” – another diving mantra – to suggest that two or more people who are willing to compromise their views and work together as a team will achieve better results than two or more separate individuals working towards that same goal.

There’s nothing new about the concept of teamwork in diving.  The buddy system is founded on the idea that diving in pairs is safer than diving alone.  Nevertheless – and despite its status as one of the most over-used terms in diving – the concept of teamwork also remains (in some circles) one of the least well understood .

Part of the reason is that diving appears to attract an inordinate number of colourful and robustly-opinionated personalities; people who regard compromise as a sign of weakness and who insist that their diving companions, “Plan your dive and dive my plan.”

Rather than believing that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, there remains a big gap in their understanding of teamwork; a hole that’s missing some of its parts.

In any event, the really good thing about teamwork is that if things turn to custard there’s always room to lay the blame on somebody else.


The above article was first published in the on-line, Sport Diver Asia Pacific Magazine, in July 2012

Categories: General

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