Add two plus two and, unless your mathematics is particularly poor, you receive an answer of four. It seems simple enough but in the real world, I am a firm believer that you can add two plus two and receive an answer anywhere from zero to ten. This seems a little silly but I am not talking about the pure and binary world of mathematics – I am talking about the real world of team and group dynamics.

The concept has been around for some time. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” was first coined by Aristotle sometime around 340 BCE and we see examples every day. The house you woke up in this morning is just a collection of bricks and timber and metal but combine that with some design and labour and arrange those components in a certain way and we had a nice way to stay warm from the almost freezing air last night.

For eight long-suffering years – until the streak was finally broken this year – we would read about the inadequacies of the individuals in the Queensland State of Origin team and, more often than not, the NSW team would go into a match or series as the favourite. Once those maroon jumpers came down the tunnel with the chant of “Queenslander” echoing through the tunnel, the players seemed to run faster, fly higher and scramble better than anyone ever thought possible. Many clubs bemoan the fact that their players seem to play ten per cent better in a maroon jumper than their normal club colours.

In terms of Council, we see so many examples of this idea – both internal and external to Council. The reason I originally decided to stand for Council was borne from frustration. In the early 2000s, I would see constant examples in the media of Councillors at loggerheads and seemingly making irrational decisions. I knew most of the Councillors at the time and, individually, they seemed like reasonable, sensible and rational human beings. In a group environment though, for whatever reason, they just didn’t seem to gel together. Fast forward ten years and our current group are still all reasonable, sensible and rational human beings on an individual basis but in a group environment they are even better. The dynamics of the team create a better decision making body – with different opinions and experiences – than decisions made by any one individual Councillor.

We also have a number of alliances and groups that involve multiple Councils to try and deliver better outcomes. The Orana Region of Councils (OROC) has twelve member Councils in this region that focus on delivering better outcomes for all of the residents in this region. In very simple terms, a tender for the supply of bitumen that involves the supply to multiple Councils in OROC will deliver better prices to each individual Council than they would ever achieve individually. There are many other examples of this in terms of, not just tenders, but policies, planning and lobbying. Dubbo City Council was one of the first Councils to meet with the new Minister for Local Government, the Hon. Paul Toole MP, but not as an individual Council. We sat at the table beside the other eleven OROCkers and had a great discussion with the newly minted Minister.

One of the groups that has really challenged the thinking of Aristotle’s saying has been the grouping of the seven Evocities. On 21 July 2006 the MD of the Commercial Response Unit from Wagga Wagga, Gary Wells, delivered a presentation to Dubbo City Councillors on an idea known as the ‘”Regional Cities Joint Marketing Project” which, thankfully eventually changed its name from a committee created name to a much more marketing-savvy name of Evocities. The proposed regional cities were Albury; Armidale; Bathurst; Dubbo; Orange; Tamworth and Wagga Wagga. The initial reaction from some people was based on old adversaries. Some cities, in particular nearby cities, were often used to ‘competing’ and saw other cities as their competition. The idea was revolutionary as it proposed teaming up with cities that many saw as competition for new residents, services and government money. It would be fair to say that some areas took some convincing – hence the time it took from the germination of the idea to the official launch of Evocities by the then Minister for Regional Australia, Simon Crean, on 22 September 2010. With the Evocity brand approaching four years in the marketplace, in my opinion, it has been a raging success with a number of statistics showing increased relocations, economic injection and awareness of the cities. There is no doubt that we have achieved significantly more by working with our competitors on joint marketing and awareness campaigns than if each city had approached the task individually.

As the concept matures, other ideas are starting to come forward. I spent time on a teleconference two weeks ago with the MTB club from each of the seven Evocities. We are currently planning to create the most lucrative MTB series in the country. Once again, by working in collaboration with our competition, we have an opportunity to create something much larger than what could be created by any of the individual cities.

Tell me what number you arrive at when you add two plus two in relation to Evocities at

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