The whole is more than the sum of its parts — Aristotle

I read something recently and it got me thinking. Basically, I have always relied on the old axiom the the whole is more than the sum of its parts. People, working together, often can accomplish tasks that could not be done working separately.

The mathematician in me, balks at this idea. The whole could never be greater than the sum of its parts. So, I compartmentalized my thoughts on this. Sometimes math doesn’t work in the real world.

I do not remember where I read this and it is certainly not verbatim, but the author said that we need to add, not just the parts, but also the relationships between the parts. He was referring to a mechanical device, but the same applies to the axiom above.

The whole is exactly equal to the sum of the sum of its parts and the sum of the relationships between those parts.

Whole = Parts + Relationships

This makes it all clear for me. The axiom makes sense because I often discount or do not observe the relationships between the people involved in a group.