Reflecting on what makes good teams great is interesting.
There are the qualities which are commonly recognised like leadership and cohesion of effort which contribute to team function and success.
In addition to what might be easily recognised there are some features of teams which don't feature so often in the "great team" manuals – such as environmental factors and the fuel that drives performance (such as funding and nutrition).
In addition to these there is another less talked about factor – the individual contributor.
My contention is that all great teams have at least one participant who contributes more to the team momentum than others.
I'm not talking about leadership here, I am talking about the "grafter" or the one who puts in the most valuable effort.
Interestingly these participants of successful teams don't get the recognition of the stars or the "leaders" but the success of the team would be threatened were they not present.
An important caveat however, there is no "I" in team – so the truly optimal contributor is selfless too and often does great things without requiring the recognition.
Such team players can also be the captain, and when this happens it is common that teams experience phenomenal success because the contributor also leads and drives the team to the highest levels of performance. Some examples in sport include Richie McCaw of the All Blacks and Jordan Henderson of Liverpool FC.
But for the most part, the great contributors tend not to be recognised (or seen) until the success is achieved and analysed or when the going gets tough and their contribution becomes starkly identifiable (and needed).
In the case of our local and national economy, the most important contributor is the agricultural sector – particularly given the events of 2020.
Indeed, for decades agriculture and horticulture has been the back bone of our economy – where we are now and what we enjoy would not have been possible without the contribution of our rural economy. Indeed, our produce is recognised the world over for quality and, more recently, innovation.
The examples in our own region are too numerous to mention, but it is true that a strong and vibrant rural economy makes Whanganui and the region tick.
And there are great opportunities for the future – only on Sunday while watching Country Calendar, Mrs Bell asked me why the Whanganui microclimate and our opportunity to grow (practically) anything has not been capitalised on? It is a very good question because the ingredients are all there: great soil, temperate climate, water etc.
And, because we have to ask that question, we see in action a characteristic of the great contributor which is adding great value in the background.
Sure, we get excited about shooting rockets into space and we direct resources "hot economic trends" which may or may not come to fruition – all the while the agricultural sector consistently produces the economic utility and value added product which drives the economy forward.
Now, with Covid-19 and the economic pain which is still to come due to our (and the world's) response we are going to need our economic contributors more than ever.
In our region I believe that we have everything we need for our rural economy, and the local businesses and networks that support it, to establish itself as a national and world leader.
Put simply, the world is still going to need and want good food. And that food, and innovations in food, can and should come from here.