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What do jazz ensembles and great teamwork have in common?
According to Juliana Stancampiano, who is the Founder and CEO of Oxygen, “extraordinary teams driving radical outcomes for their businesses are in constant, open, supportive conversations, often while moving at breakneck speeds to meet demands. These teams operate like a jazz ensemble: they are well-rehearsed professionals who are always keeping a tune in mind, while allowing for improvisation and spontaneous ideas to influence the way they perform.”
If you’re currently at a great company, this analogy may sound familiar. However, if you’re founding a new company, helming a high-growth enterprise, or trying to create a more effective culture, Stancampiano, the author of the new book, Radical Outcomes, presents innovative ways for teams to communicate, connect, and organize work.
Stancampiano reveals, “workplace models that used to work are simply no longer effective, and so-called ‘best practices’ must be questioned. The people who need the most guidance on how to be successful in the workplace are often flooded with so much information, there’s no way for them to absorb it, let alone change what they do.”
In Radical Outcomes, Stancampiano offers up that “Most business leaders recognize that success in today’s environment demands much more than exceptional products. Companies must also create great experiences for their customers by leveraging the increasingly complex technology landscape. To do this, employees need to develop new sets of skills on a regular basis. Indeed, learning and development is now a $140 billion industry.”
Besides great teams operating like a well tuned jazz ensemble, Radical Outcomes also outlines four keys to improving results using an out-come based approach. This mindset demands focusing on measurable results – like process improvements or efficiencies, reduced costs, or increased conversion rates – first, and then identifying the tasks necessary to achieve those results.
Build A Spirit Of Collaboration And Ensure That Your Team Has A Common Mission. Organizations today are growing and changing at such a rapid pace, teams must adapt a collaborative and open mindset similar to the jazz ensemble. Without a cohesive way of driving progress together, staying on pace, achieving complex business outcomes becomes almost impossible. Start with small projects and the approach can become infectious.
Balance Role Clarity With The Need For Flexibility To Accommodate The Unpredictable. Extraordinary teams have role clarity and they understand that, at some point, they will need to cover for each other. Because they are aligned to a business outcome and in open, constant conversation, picking up work beyond the normal purview becomes easier, like a piano player taking up the rhythm of a jazz tune with their left land, while the drummer picks up a dropped stick. Having clearly assigned roles is essential, because when you want to step out of that role, you can declare it: “I realize I am the project manager on this work, but I have a thought on the design of that graphic – do you want me to give that feedback?” I often refer to this as players being a “Jack” or “Jill” of all trades in order to enhance the quality and depth of the teamwork and project results
Saying “I Don’t Know,” And “Yes, And” Are Some Of The Codes Of Conduct That Should Guide Your Team’s Behavior. Transparency and how you use certain words is important. One key to collaboration is fostering a culture of improvisation through the use of “yes, and..” instead of “yes, but…” when teams are dealing with differences in opinion. The human brain hears “but” as a negation of everything said before it, as opposed to “and” which implies a willingness to collaborate without putting listeners on the defensive — so craft you message carefully.
Why The Most Important Task Of Any Team Leader Is To Manage The Team’s Energy. Leaders who manage team energy model authentic behavior. They don’t just enforce a code of conduct, they follow it and build trust by figuring stuff out with their teams, not for them. Effective leaders create and maintain a space where teammates can show up, share their thoughts, disagree, and figure out a way forward. They de-escalate energy when it rises, allow it to get intense if that is needed, and always bring it back to a place of productive energy. This is critical if you don’t want to burn out your people, and yet enable your team to give consistent high performance.
One last caveat. Stancampiano recommends building “enablement” teams to create training experiences and content that are easy to consume, highly relevant, and sequenced over a timetable that make sense to improve outcomes. Radical Outcomes illustrates this process through the story of a fictional company facing a major challenge: developing an entirely new way of ramping up hundreds of new hires to be able to reach quota in less time. Very plausible and certainly worth the read for applicable take aways.
May 29, 2019 at 10:40AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs