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One team, trying to scale up early childhood development programs, includes
a seasoned researcher and campaigner, one politician with experience in public
health programs and another who has shepherded an enabling law through
Congress, and a technology expert with connections to a state government where
the team is piloting its strategy. A second team, working on introducing new
learning methodologies using technology to reach marginalized communities,
includes an indigenous leader with the childhood experience of such
marginalization, an education entrepreneur whose understanding of what is
needed was shaken up by hearing this leader’s story, a hard-driving education
ministry project manager, a school principal, and a philanthropist. And a third
team, working on changing the way resources are allocated to schools, includes
two senior officials from the education ministry, a congresswoman, and an
educational policy expert, who together have been able to identify precisely where
and when to change the rules that govern resource allocation.
These teams, and the six other teams involved, are powerful specifically
because they include diverse and remarkable actors who have never had the
opportunity to join forces. Participants have different backgrounds, ideologies,
and loyalties, and outside the lab, many are in serious conflict.
Making hard choices
Many of the most gripping scenes in the movie are those in which the superheroes
need to decide what they are willing to do to advance their team’s mission of
defeating Thanos. Should Thor sacrifice his brother? Should Peter Quill kill his
girlfriend Gamora, as she asked him to do? Should Vision give up his own life?
Even Thanos struggles with whether he must kill Gamora, his adopted daughter,
to accomplish his mission of obtaining the stones.
Struggling with difficult choices is intrinsic to all collaborations. Is this a
battle that I am willing to join, and in so doing, depart from my familiar way of
working? Am I willing to team up with these different others, including those I
don’t agree with, like, or trust? In order to achieve our mission, am I willing to
compromise on something that really matters to me, or even to be seen as a
traitor? Collaborating does not involve a single choice — whether to join a team
— but a series of them.