Welcome to the second post of our Team Alchemy Blog. I wrote last week that if we keep our eyes open to them, we can observe countless numbers of situations on a daily basis which illustrate examples of the power of successful teams.
While cooking dinner recently, my 20 year-old son was at the table, watching music videos on Youtube. One of them had him particularly amazed, and shouting at me to watch it with him. Although I can’t repeat some of the language he used whilst watching it, I am happy to share the video below:
What an amazing video! After watching it several more times during dinner, it struck me that the absurdly complex system they had created must be the result of a high degree of collaboration, and excellent planning. My suspicion was further aroused when I saw the final scene, showing a large group of people cheering loudly and obviously very proudly.
So, I decided to do a bit of e-snooping, and quickly came up with this second (short) video which shows some interesting ‘behind the scenes’ footage of how the music video was created:
What I’d like to do now is to use the videos embedded in this blog post to give a brief “Team Alchemy Model 101” overview of all six of the elements, and how they relate to each other to facilitate team synergy.
Performance ethic. Team-first ethos. Recognise contributions.
With the exception of the conclusion of the video clip when they are shot in the face by paint guns, we never actually see the band members who are responsible for the music we are listening to. Essentially, ‘OK-Go’ have turned the tables on the standard recipe for a successful music video, which normally stars the musicians, having them front and centre. In this instance, the band has forsaken the spotlight, choosing instead to create an internet phenomenon which to date has been viewed many millions of times, and in turn, benefits them all greatly in the long run.
High standards. Use of milestones to monitor, review and reflect on performance. Confront reality.
In the behind-the-scenes clip, Damian, the band’s front man, explains how they used a network to source a high-quality team of engineers and directors, and make sure that they all knew their roles within the larger team. He talks of the desire to create a truly amazing ‘machine’, and expresses thanks that he has found team members who are committed to achieving the same high standards that he and the team are aiming for.
Clarity and alignment. An action orientation. Commitment to execution.
At one point during the interview, Damian explains that the concept started with him writing down the idea that he had in his head, and communicating it online to electronic networks of skilled people whom he believed could help the band find the right people to work with. The very act of putting the notion down on paper allows the team to align itself with a common direction, and provides a bedrock for all to check back against and judge their quality of execution.
It also provides a solid blueprint to foster…
Active listening and straight-talking. Sound structure and processes. Constructive use of tension.
During the behind-the-scenes shots in the second video, we see several illustrations of direct talking and active listening between the band members and the engineers whilst they are all involved in the planning process. All those present seem to be engaged with each other and operating within an environment where they can express their ideas and communicate how their unique skill sets can be maximised. This goes hand-in-hand with…
Trust & Respect
Give trust unearned. Respect each other. Belief through action.
As mentioned above, the band seem perfectly happy to step out of the spotlight, and hand over the reins to a team of engineers and directors, giving them the ultimate responsibility of creating a unique and special video. The band have conceptualised a fantastic idea, but do not have all the talents and expertise themselves to make it a reality. They have placed their trust in outsiders to deliver their idea.
Strong external orientation. Proactively engage with key stakeholders. Utilise feedback loops.
The beauty of the machine itself is the fantastic system ingenuity that has been devised to link together each individual component, and create a fluid organism. Each cog in the machine flows beautifully into the next, creating an unbelievably impressive 4 minutes of action. The same could be said for the wider team who are responsible for such a intricate and entertaining piece of video. They have obviously created a strong system of collaboration, dialogue and feedback loops in order to harness their respective aptitudes.
_ _ _
The celebration we witness at the conclusion of the video is an apt way to finish, and demonstrates the feeling of joy and satisfaction that can be achieved when teams function at a high state of synergy.
Those of you reading this are all leaders in your own fields. While I strongly doubt that any of you set out each day to create a Willy-Wonka styled system of shooting yourself in the face with a paint gun, there are many lessons we can take from the above video about how to make effective use of the six elements of the Team Alchemy Model, and to foster fabulous results within teams.
- - -
© 2013 Team Alchemy. Click here to read about the Team Alchemy writers.