One of those days off, in the middle of the week; with nothing on the agenda than just hang around, do nothing; just getting inspired by what presents itself that day. One of the presents was a tweet this morning about daydreaming and wandering brains.
The picture of the wondering girl intrigues me. I am back in high school. My mind takes the time-capsule 30 years or more back in time. When I was a DJ of a traveling gig called “The Celebration”. Led Zeppelin’s “Celebration Day” inspired that name.
“I’m gonna join the band,
We are gonna dance and sing in celebration,
We are in the promised land”
I open up iTunes, start the HD video version of Led Zeppelin’s concert “Celebration Day”. Magic happens.
Mmmm… this is really very very good. Enjoy it very much, especially loud with quality headsets on and Mac wide 27 inch screen. Next time, I have to experience this on IMAX in a high quality cinema…
This concert performance makes me think of the magic of great bands, the magic of big teams. What they are going through when they form, when they storm, when they norm, when they perform. When they disband or get disbanded, get together, stay apart; investigating the energies and emotions that glue the human fabric in something magic and powerful that can not be articulated in hierarchies or organograms.
I take some notes of my reflections, and without knowing it on a rant about the making and breaking of bands, of teams. The metaphor is powerful.
Checkout the history of Led Zeppelin on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Led_Zeppelin > and read it as if this was not about a rock band, but about a team in an organization. How much do you recognize?
“As soon as I heard John Bonham play”, recalled Jones, “I knew this was going to be great … We locked together as a team immediately”
Suddenly, destiny brings people together. There is chemistry; sounds and creativity start flowing. We look for a group identity: something that bonds us as a team, as a tribe; a bond, a deep human need.
One account of how the new band’s name was chosen held that Moon and Entwistle had suggested that a super group with Page and Beck would go down like a “lead balloon”, an idiom for disastrous results.The group dropped the ‘a’ in lead at the suggestion of their manager, Peter Grant, so that those unfamiliar with the phrase would not pronounce it “leed”.The word “balloon” was transformed into “zeppelin“, perhaps an exaggeration of the humor, and to Page the name conjured the perfect combination of heavy and light, combustibility and grace.
Heavy, light, combustible and gracefulness. The metaphor of a well-oiled band: playing as united, with deep mutual respect for each other, no egos at play. The look in the eye, the smile of “well done”, “this rocks”, “that was fun”. Also a little bit “dying” in full performance, giving every little bit of you.
Mastery of your instrument, not any more about playing, but expressing yourself at the emotional level, touching others through word, sound, light, and all senses by letting howl your guitar from deep within your belly, but it also can be a weeping or whispering guitar: when my guitar gently weeps (The Beatles 1968, The White Album)
“I wrote “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at my mother’s house in Warrington. I was thinking about the Chinese I Ching, the Book of Changes… The Eastern concept is that whatever happens is all meant to be, and that there’s no such thing as coincidence – every little item that’s going down has a purpose. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was a simple study based on that theory. I decided to write a song based on the first thing I saw upon opening any book – as it would be relative to that moment, at that time. I picked up a book at random, opened it, saw ‘gently weeps’, then laid the book down again and started the song.”
“I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps.”
The magic of Duos and Triads and Tribes, where cohesion and conflict emerge from randomness and live peacefully next to each other. Where there is no fear, and it is 100% safe to express your opinion, to make art, unique experiences that make you smile softly in bliss. Like the smile of the young woman in the audience of the Led Zeppelin concert; a smile of joy.
“Joy” as described as “Search Inside Yourself: Increase Productivity, Creativity and Happiness” (Amazon Associates Link) by Chade-Meng Tan from Google, with foreword by Daniel Goleman.
“Especially the type of joy with a gentle quality that doesn’t overwhelm the senses. For example, taking a nice walk, holding hands with a loved one, enjoying a good meal, carrying a sleeping baby, or sitting with your child while she is reading a good book are great opportunities to practice mindfulness by bringing full moment-to-moment attention to the joyful experience, to the mind, and to the body. I call it Joyful Mindfulness”
Bands and teams go through the cycles of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing as so well described by Bruce Tuckman, already in 1965.
“These high-performing teams are able to function as a unit as they find ways to get the job done smoothly and effectively without inappropriate conflict or the need for external supervision. By this time, they are motivated and knowledgeable. The team members are now competent, autonomous and able to handle the decision-making process without supervision. Dissent is expected and allowed as long as it is channeled through means acceptable to the team.”
Most teams never get beyond forming. Some get at storming and norming. Very few reach the stage of performing where the “we” supersedes the “me”.
But bands split. So do teams. Some teams disband when the work is done. Other teams get disbanded. The “best” way to disband teams is to first cut them of resources, of budgets, of purpose. What also works well is to disperse the team members over different business units, to break the bonding through dis-location.
But in today’s on-line world, place and location matter less.
True bonding is a quite another level.
When bands split or teams get disbanded, something strange happens. It feels a little bit like a shrapnel bomb hit by surprise. You loose some of your loved ones. Yes, there are direct casualties, and also collateral damage. It hurts seeing people hurt, bleeding, weeping, crying. The team gets on a roller-coaster of emotions. They are touched in their essence, their flow.
It feels like mourning. You feel alone, dazed and confused (another Led Zeppelin classic)
Every day I work so hard, bringin’ home my hard earned pay
Try to love you baby, but you push me away.
Don’t know where you’re goin’, only know just where you’ve been,
Sweet little baby, I want you again.
Re-Make and Succeed
But then it’s time to get over it and to restart, to reboot. To explore what is our true purpose, where we can make a real difference.
“First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win.”
Great teams work on the principle of “interdependency”; interdependency from each other, interdependency from the ecosystem; the holistic/”wholistic” environment they operate in.
Great teams never give in. They have some form of pride, not hubris; every team member is standing-up, like “grounded” in full spirit, head-up, facing, forthcoming. Forte, inspiring others to dream and play like a band, rocking the place like it never had been rocked before.
Was the bond strong enough or is it over, over and out? Can we individually re-boot, re-bond across different departments? If so, we can start multiple fires, multiple tribes and set the house on fire. Not a fire of destruction, but a fire of care, love, energy, expansion of the self and the group and the company and the ecosystem at large.
Quo Vadis, team? Once more the gas throttle full speed, and going were we have never been gone before? For what purpose? With what intention. Why?
To find out, teams have to re-ground. As a team. Even if they don’t exist as such anymore in the organogram.
Like Led Zeppelin, who retreated in Bron-Yr-Aur, the Welsh cottage to which Page and Plant retired in 1970 to write many of the tracks that appeared on the band’s third and fourth albums.
Wow! The son of the original drummer? Where is my son? Where is our offspring? Who will be the new drummer of the band and make the magic of team cohesion happen again? The drummer can make a big difference as described by Tim Kastelle in “Culture provides the beat for your organization”.
This is about managing interactions and connections.
“In complex systems, emergent properties arise through networks of interactions. Building an understanding of your networks is crucial to improving innovation outcomes. Network weaving is a more effective management tool than organizational restructuring.”
So how can we have both focused and open attention for network weaving? By focused and open attention and presence.
Again from Chade-Meng Tan’s book:
“Focused attention is an intense focus on a chosen object. It is stable, strong, and unwavering. It is like sunlight focused with a lens shining intensely on a single point. It is like a solid piece of rock, majestically unmoved by the distraction of the wind. It is a mind like a closely guarded royal palace where only the most honored guests are allowed to enter and all others are courteously but firmly turned away. Open attention is a quality of attention willing to meet any object that arrives at the mind or the senses. It is open, flexible, and inviting. It is like ambient sunlight, lending itself to anything and everything. It is like grass, always swaying gently in the wind. It is like water, willing to take on any shape at any time. It is a mind like an open house with a friendly host, where anybody who walks in is welcomed as an guest”
One of the great challenges of new teams is indeed how you welcome new team members and their emotions. Do you unconditionally welcome them and their emotions as guests, without prejudice? With the real intention to make each other succeed?
Somewhere in the middle of the concert, Roger Plant says something about “Creating a dynamic evening”.
For me that “dynamism” translates in playing my song, a real song, with harmonics, with structure, with ebb and flow, with meaning. Not just a list of great speakers that are great soloists on stage, but creating a magic welding of human energies. It is about indivisible and complete immersive experiences, the same way Led Zeppelin preferred the “album” as an indivisible piece of art:
“After changing their name from The New Yardbirds, they signed a favourable deal with Atlantic Records that allowed them considerable artistic freedom. Led Zeppelin disliked releasing their songs as singles; they viewed their albums as indivisible and complete listening experiences.”
This is not about TED, but as Umair Hague so well described in just one tweet: the difference between TED and the something else with the un-named quality that we are after.
“Not a kind of heat death of thought: all gurus, no teachers; all sound bites, no depth; all positivity, no criticism.”
What we need is a “Whole Lotta Love” in everything we do!
You’ve been coolin’, baby, I’ve been droolin’,
All the good times I’ve been misusin’,
Way, way down inside, I’m gonna give you my love,
I’m gonna give you every inch of my love,
Gonna give you my love.
Let’s rock on!