Teamwork - what’s wrong with this picture?


Lucas A. Meyer


November 8, 2022

If your office has a “teamwork gears” picture like this one, you may be thinking about working remotely.

I’m not even talking about the guy riding the rocket. I’m going to assume that it’s a crash test dummy, not an allusion to the recent acquisition of #Twitter. The problem I have is with the gears.

You see, if the person with the mustache and the red shirt turns the gear clockwise, this would push the other two gears to turn counter-clockwise. But these other two gears push each other in opposite directions.

For example, if “red” moves clockwise, it will push “green” to move counter-clockwise, which in turn pushes “blue” to move clockwise, which in turn pushes “red” to move counter-clockwise… but “red” was being pushed to move clockwise to begin with. This whole gear system is stuck: if someone tries to introduce any movement, the system works to stay firmly locked into place.

I’m still trying to decide if this is a mistake. Maybe it’s just great art, a subtle criticism about #teamwork that the artist snuck in. Maybe they worked in a #toxic workplace, or had a lot of group projects in high school.

It’s in days like this that I realize how luck I’ve been in my career. The teams I worked in (and my current team, the AI for Good Lab) were always places that were simultaneously good at science and great places to work at.

I hope you are as lucky as I am.