Teamwork Needs Healthy Friction to Collaborate and Get Work Done More Effectively

2 thoughts on “Teamwork Needs Healthy Friction to Collaborate and Get Work Done More Effectively”

  1. I joined my first non-school team in 1957. Yes – 1957. It was a church choir and I have been a member of, or directed, church choirs ever since. All church choirs, even at Kings College, Cambridge, have a range of ages, capabilities and personalities tied together in the common purpose of supporting an act of worship. The role of an orchestra conductor is often used as a metaphor for a team leader, but those who play in orchestras know that it is the Leader of the orchestra who binds the team together. That’s why they are called the Leader!

    Choirs are an order of magnitude more challenging. Sopranos, contraltos, altos, tenors and basses will be singing different notes and even different words at the same time, perhaps in a language they do not speak or read. The role of a choral conductor is to balance friction (inevitable) and their commitment to a common purpose in order to achieve as close as possible to what the composer would have regarded as the perfect performance – if they had still been alive. Friction is inevitable because every member of the choir will have their own view of what that performance should sound like. But I’m sure you will agree there is probably nothing more moving than the sound of a choir working and singing in total harmony. In the words of John Donne “no noise nor silence, but one equal music”

    The ultimate challenge is yet to come. As an organist I’ve accompanied choirs in cathedrals in the UK. I can neither see or hear the choir as I may be 40ft above and away from them. I can see the conductor in a monitor but have anticipate what the conductor might do as I have to play ahead of the beat because of the acoustic of the cathedral. Now that is virtual team work!

    When working with teams I map the members, who I might only have just met, onto a choir ‘model’. That enables me to remember names and roles and more importantly I feel very comfortable with the team having run some 8000 previous team events. Perhaps the group from Pharma are the sopranos and the group from Heath Care are the contraltos. I’ve found that if I feel comfortable the team feels comfortable, and can cope with, and like a choir even value conflict, in order to deliver excellence

    The moral of this story is that I would encourage people working with teams to map them to a social/external team format they are familiar with. A soccer team or a drama group etc. It works for me. Maybe it will work for you.

    1. Hi Martin, many thanks for that wonderful feedback and for the superb contribution! My goodness! I can still sense the passion, energy and great effort you have invested all along with those choir related teams and I don’t think there is an even better metaphor than that one to describe how a healthy friction builds up on that perfect harmony with a common goal: delight the ‘client’, whoever they may well be! Just brilliant!

      I like it very much as well how you describe the complexity of teams based on a specific context, whether face to face, to even remote ones, in order to learn how they could play together despite the nuances and complexities in place and still get the job done beautifully. I am certainly going to remember this terrific story to describe how teams can come together if the right conditions are provided and how we could all help out with that as well. Splendid!

      Surely hope folks may have an opportunity to read your comment above to get some really good ideas, hints & tips, etc. of how they could build their own teams in harmony as a result of that healthy friction you mentioned above as well. Something tells me we would have a much more effective and overall engaged workplace altogether!

      Thanks a lot, Martin, for dropping by and for the generous contribution! Much appreciated. 😀👍🏻

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