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The Significance Of International Teamwork And Collaboration

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Teamwork is a notion that is commonly described as a combined action of a group that is aimed to achieve a collective goal. Tasks are carried out more efficiently, making teamwork one of the essential factors in reaching higher productivity for both planned and unplanned events. The Thai Rescue Mission was an unforeseen event that had occurred in Thailand on Saturday 23rd June 2018 and continued till 10th July 2018. A young coach (25-year-old) and 12 soccer players aged between 11-16 years were trapped in a Thailand cave where exploration had gone wrong as the cave was flooded due to heavy monsoon rain. The fundamental idea that brought success in this unanticipated and highly unprecedented event was based around the idea of teamwork. As Helen Keller stated, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”. The importance and implementation of strong teamwork were highlighted throughout the event as this dramatic international rescue mission achieved ‘dream result’ through a highly recognised team effort that was displayed by professionals from around the world.

This tragic event that was widely publicised unfolded in the Tham Luang Cave in Thailand. The twelve members of the soccer team and their coach entered the cave after football practice. Monsoon flooding that was caused by heavy rains flooded the cave trapping the group 1kms below the service and 2.4 kilometres into the earth. The Thai government took immediate action by getting the Thai navy seals and their diving team to join the search to confirm if all the 13 people were still alive. Volunteers were called upon to assist in pumping the water out of the cave. A major military operation was carried out and four days later when there was no sign of the boys, Thai authorities called for international help. A very diverse crisis management team was formed to face the tragedy that was characterized by high risk, time constraints and high uncertainty (INSERT ROLE VARIABILITY IN TEXT CITE). A self- organising team was formed as Thai soldiers, navy divers, volunteers, Thai military, journalists, media and professional divers from US, British and Australia collaborated together to conduct this miraculous rescue.

Teamwork was crucial in this unfolding event as there was an acute level of time pressure and urgency that could not be dealt by the Thai government alone. International support from experts in various fields was essential as this was a race against time. Oxygen levels were decreasing in the cave and the situation was becoming not manageable as the risk of water levels increasing was seen as a possibility due to forecasted heavy monsoon rains hence adding further risks to this rescue mission. The combined skills, expertise and knowledge was required to ensure groupthink was avoided and detailed planning was executed to avoid errors. The international professionals collaborated together and brainstormed ideas to complete the rescue mission successfully. After the detailed analysis of the cave, the options to rescue the 13 people were to either train the boys to dive underwater, pump the flooded water out of the cave, find and drill a new exit or to leave the team in the cave until the monsoon season was over. This rescue would have been infinitely more dangerous without international help as this was a demanding situation and required composure, skilled expertise and strong risk management skills that could not be provided by the Thai government alone. A collective perspective was required to tackle such a complex problem.

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Formation of this ad hoc team consisting of members from different backgrounds, professions and organisational cultures with limited experience in working together prior to this event collaborated and made this rescue possible. International teamwork was made effective as every individual involved in the rescue mission was sharing ideas, knowledge, information, and expertise to locate the best solution possible. After the tragic death of Salman Guana a former Thai Navy volunteer caused due to the low oxygen levels on his return dive, all experts tested the rescue plan in multiple ways to ensure his loss would not be in vain. An operational pause was taken to reassess the risk that was involved. The team’s ability to adapt and continue to have the motivation and strong will power to achieve the most positive result made teamwork effective in this despairing event. Strong conflict management skills were evident as the roles were delegated according to the strengths, skill level and expertise each individual held upon. Cooperation was the key to success as there was one big team and many different responsibilities that had to be carried out.

Team learning is the process of aligning the capacity of a team to create the results its members truly desire. Team learning was apparent throughout the whole rescue mission as there was a relative change in the team’s knowledge after their first attempt ‘failed’ due to the death of a Thai Navy Volunteer. The people involved learned the risks of the plan they were executing and learned from the experts the best way to avoid such a mistake. Team learning had a major contribution to the success of this rescue mission as the professionals acted in a new synergistic way to produce a safe and effective solution. Collective intelligence was brought together to be responsive and choose a ‘decent plan’ which was to dive and rescue the 13 people by dragging them underwater. Team learning was effective as the team played together and coordinated action by dry rehearsing the plan in a pool to ensure the plan would be a success. By functioning as a whole team the plan was executed. Although it was a slow and daunting process a successful outcome was achieved and there was an enormous sense of relief as the 13 involved were safely rescued.

In conclusion, this wide and diverse collaboration shows that nations work best when they work together. This event that shifted from a search to rescue was a remarkable example of international cooperation. Teamwork was necessary as this rescue would not be possible without the professionals and volunteers involved. International teamwork and collaboration resulted in an unrivalled success and miracle rescue.

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The Significance Of International Teamwork And Collaboration. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 29, 2023, from
“The Significance Of International Teamwork And Collaboration.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
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