Playing in harmony

Published on
August 10, 2013
Chris Taylor
"Ideas are only valuable when applied."
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A symphony orchestra is comprised of roughly 100 individuals who, through their combined efforts, create something truly remarkable.

The word “collaboration” gets bounced around a lot in 21st century work environments.

Ironically (perhaps), the teams I see that are most collaborative have a strong culture of personal accountability at their core. In orchestra language, the violinist focuses exclusively on being the best damn violinist she can be. She doesn’t concern herself with learning the tuba, though she appreciates what the tuba player brings to the situation. On a team where everyone carries a high level of individual responsibility, each person works harder to make sure they’re not the weakest link in the chain.

21st Century Collaboration is not about consensus, and it’s not about shared responsibility over the project at large (that’s what the conductor is for). Collaboration is the result of personal effort, synchronized under a common and well communicated objective.

For your next “collaborative” project, think like an orchestra:

  • Who’s responsible for creating what effect?
  • Do they have the right tools to play their part properly?
  • Is there someone in charge who keeps the group on track?
  • Is everyone reading off the same sheet?